‘Athena on Motherhood’, Kari Castor

My father once asked why
I gave him no grandchildren.
Just look at Aphrodite and all of her brood,
or Ares and his little monsters.
Why, even half-mortal Heracles managed a pack of brats,
gods rest their souls.
Can not you do the same?
Let sister Artemis play the virgin goddess.
What need has Olympus of two chaste daughters?

This said to me, by the father
who ate my mother
to prevent my birth.

He plucked my mother from the air,
an unripe fruit

Her wings convulsing against his big
fleshy fingers, delicate mesh tearing
like delicate skin would tear
when she gave birth to me,
larval goddess,
deep inside his belly.

He swallowed her up,
slender strange-jointed legs
scrabbling for purchase,
sliding down his smooth gullet.

Born from one belly into another:
From the salt-water safety of my mother’s womb
Into the stinging stinking bile of my father’s gut.

He swallowed her up
to stop me being
but I was anyway.

A woman may rightly fear motherhood
when her mother has been swallowed alive by it.

© 2016 Kari Castor

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