The Corinthian Women

Chelsea Rathburn

BPR 45 | 2018

        “Shall I go in? Shall I go in?
         We should stop the murder of the children.”
                —The Chorus, Euripides’ Medea

Say what you like: that we were wretched, weak,
too quick to pity, that we envied her powers,
that the monstrous guilt as much as hers was ours
because we knew and knowing did not speak.
Of course you think you could have spared the child
squirming beneath the blade, destroyed the poison,
somehow suppressed her madness and her reason. Call
us barbaric all, feminine and wild.

Say we’d gone in, say we had stopped the knife,
(don’t you think that we were desperate for that choice?)
she’d still have had her potions and her fury;
she’d still have found the means to wreck her life.
Our role was fixed: to flank the gates and worry,
to speak behind our masks in a single voice.