In keeping with the theme of narratives and characters from Greek mythology, I am sharing a poem I wrote a few months ago which was inspired by the novel, Circe (2018) by Madeline Miller, which tells the story of Circe, daughter of Helios, the god of sun. My poem speaks for Scylla, a legendary mythical monster who lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, with Charybdis, a deadly whirlpool on the other. In Miller’s novel, she tells how Circe turned the nymph Scylla into the horrendous creature we all know, after the man she was in love with fell in love with Scylla instead of her.
Scylla’s Lament for the Life She Has Lost
“Beware the dark pool at the bottom of our
hearts. In its icy, black depths dwell strange
and twisted creatures it is best not to disturb.”– Sue Grafton
That sinkhole of sadness pulled me under tonight.
It felt more like surrender, I put up no fight.
I let Charybdis drag down each petrified head
no flailing, no grasping, no dash for the rock.
I found comfort believing my time had come
until she spat me back out like rank, rotted fish,
a taste she repelled, poisoning her mouth.
Then I recalled the spiteful words of your curse,
the twisted shape of your lips speaking those final lines:
This creature you’ll be until the last day of Earth.
You shall beg for a death that will never come.
Oh, jealous girl! What have you done? I cannot
believe this was your intention. Centuries now
feasting on flesh, searching for sailors to satisfy
this torturous urge. Only emotion I have left
is rapturous rage. Are you happy, dear Circe?
Or do you suffer, like me?
If I could go back, I would never have said:
Poor Circe, dumb Circe, look how ordinary she is!
For I understand this wrath I’ve brought upon myself
but respecting you now cannot change what I’ve become.
Your revenge is eternal, but I can’t help but wonder
if the years that have passed have softened your heart.
I remember that day you sailed into my lair,
I did not know control then, nor have I mastered it now,
yet the look on your face remains with me still.
Was it pity? Remorse? Or was it simply disgust?
It matters not. These are desperate hopes I speak of,
that one day you’ll find the kindness to undo
this horror and grant me my end. Am I foolish?
Well surely, only fools fall in love. If I am guilty of one
thing it was believing him worthy of either of us.
~The H Word~