Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Hebe Kearney’s ‘Clytemnestra Takes a Bath’

 

Clytemnestra Takes a Bath

 

Woman — cast your tyrannical spell upon the water,

heart of red dwarf star, fizzing wonder,

and to the seething foam pour your oils, aromatic offerings,

libations of rose petals. Let candles blaze in the dark,

a ring of ensnaring flame.

 

Woman — run the bath red,

drop by crimson drop, let the red tide flow

unsheathe the cold steel, let it slide in long strokes

and when it nicks it oozes,

draw it quick down beneath the scarlet waters,

and keep it there.

 

Woman — I know you,

you own the distant scream or two of flesh

dragged against white marble,

the sound behind the door of a call:

in another life, you betrayed a kingdom of nothing,

wrenched off an eagle’s wings, sprayed its black blood wide,

assumed the form of a snake.

 

Clytemnestra — in this life, relax;

the day is beginning.

Untangle the net of your dressing gown from the bathroom floor,

wrap your blushed flesh in silk,

apply a plaster to that bright-ooze, shaving cut,

and let the crimson bathwater all the way out.

Breathe deep, dry off, moisturise.

Fish the rose petals from the teeth of the bathtub’s drain

with your hands.

 

Hebe Kearney

 

Hebe Kearney is from Christchurch but now calls Auckland her home. She is currently studying to complete her Honours in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Auckland. She couldn’t stop writing poems if she tried, and her work has appeared in Starling, The Three Lamps and Oscen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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