Helene (of Sparta)

Madeleine Walters

I wake to a clammy palm covering my mouth

Paris’ eyes are feverish,

Possessive and possessed

Coarse fabric chafes against my cheeks

And bloodied wrists

My husband sleeps while I’m carried away

 

The ship reeks of rotting wood and fish

They treat me like a whore,

Leering at me

I feel fingers on my skin

Even as I sleep with the door locked,

One person with keys

 

Paris visits me every night,

But I am not clay to be molded

Into a royal Trojan concubine

I am not a trinket to be stolen

And added to a collection

Of beautiful things

 

Know that when I’m let off this ship

That I can’t be tamed

I am not an animal or wild thing

For you to shape in your image

I will burn Troy with nothing

But a candlestick

poetry, 2020