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Louisa Schnaithmann


First memory:

I toddle towards
my mother, drool

hanging off my chin,
hair askew,

a mess of a girl.

She permits me, smile
on her face like plaster.

Second memory:

My father, tall
and solemn,

in our great hall. He carries
a bronze speaking staff

and I peer up at this giant
to decipher him, to perhaps

speak myself.

Third memory:

My sister, Electra, is
born. The smell of new infant

and possibility. I want to hold her,
but Mother does not let me.

A regret, unrealized until later,
when I cling to Orestes in Aulis.

Final memory:

My throat is a blood-necklace.
I choke on its tautness.

My hands scramble to find
someone to hold onto, grasp

only air instead.
Everything unravels after that.


No gale. The sails
lie limp for lack
of breeze.

I worry my
hands down
to red raw palms.
My organza skirts
match my poppy

If I touch
a man,
will he burn?


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Ebon-haired and
ominous, he opens

his curved
mouth and other

lips shut. His voice
ricochets off bronze

shields on the wall.
Tapestries shiver

in his presence.
He rumbles. I shake

as he barks
about barbarians

who will trash the palace,
ravish Mother, murder me.

Collateral, all of us.

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