Errant Fathers, Stupid Women

I came across an article on the internet recently which made me very angry. The author was talking about how it’s the women’s fault if they are left holding the baby, that maybe fathers didn’t want them from the start. The tenor of the work can be summarised as follows:

Don’t come to complain to me about how harsh your life is. It’s self-inflicted: you wanted children, so deal with it. I do not blame errant fathers at all. Especially my errant father. He never wanted children. 

This was written in response to that, as well as to the fact that many of my friends have divorced in recent years because of ‘errant husbands’,  and is linked to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night. It’s also an exercise in the use of myths in poetry, which was my latest module for the poetry course I am doing.

Maria Callas as Medea.
Maria Callas as Medea.

Don’t expect us to be grateful, Medea.

Nobody asked for your sacrifice.

Jason would have coped fine without the scattering of body parts.

That’s when he should have realized you’re mental,

only thinking of yourself

under the disguise of undying love.

No wonder he found somebody new,

more easy-going,

without the grandiloquent gestures.

He needed rest after his journey, bless him,

and all you can offer is barbaric revenge…

Agamemnon returned from Troy a hero,

having left me to struggle for so many years

alone yet not free

mourning the daughter he’d sacrificed for his mission, his ego.

It’s all about ego in the end, you see.

His spoils of war in the shape of a nubile wench:

his embarrassed smile barely veiling

the testosterone pride of middle-aged conquest.

‘You’d grown a little stale.

I’d forgotten how to let fun into my life.’

Was I really the only one to see the feet sodden with clay

on this former giant of a man?

How did he turn my children against me,

using absence to tenderise their flesh so willing

to choose his account over mine?

In all discarded, bitter women

there’s a Jocasta lying in wait:

jewellery poised to maim errant fathers,

secretly rooting for the son to take over,

unable to bear mistaken loss.

23 thoughts on “Errant Fathers, Stupid Women”

  1. Marina Sofia – Thank you. What a powerful poem! You really capture the anger over being blamed, although one’s the victim. And I couldn’t agree with you more about the position taken in that article.

    1. This was the spontaneous first reaction – maybe the anger needs to be more tightly controlled. Well, that’s what editing is for… Thanks!

    1. Thank you kindly, Victoria! I do love myths in general, and Greek myths in particular, and find them still so hugely relevant to human nature.

  2. Carefully crafted, every word a pillar, every reference carrying with it its own set of symbols, connotations, and subsequent emotions. Yet, you were sculpting them to your purpose. This poem has grandeur, purpose, energy and truth. Outstanding piece!

    1. Thank you, Gay, your comment means so much to me. This was a very heartfelt poem written in the heat of the moment, so probably still quite a bit of sculpting left to do…

  3. What an amazing poem. The myths you use tie in so well to the theme, each one adding a layer of injustice. This sums up the way women are often the ones ‘blamed’ despite being the victim. Brilliant.

    1. Thank you. I was trying to decide which one of the myths to use… and then I noticed a pattern. And don’t get me started on that old goat Zeus and his long-suffering Hera, always presented as such a shrew and a nag…

  4. Strong fluent write here Marina, which builds nicely to a very strong clear close, with each word keenly felt…

  5. The story is an old one..but so sad as the extended family and village is more often..not left to feel..yes fill and feel..the void of human is the case in almost all of human history and pre-history too..the child is the prize not who owns science does show about a third of humans are monogamous..with the rest left to ‘wander’..i count myself in the third..but nah..i do not blame human nature for anything..or nature for matters that are true..of what i know..that of course is only my opinion..but i get scalding angry at church for the time a deacon says single mothers are not fit to raise’s hard but it’s certainly not the hardest thing..of human nature..and mother too..was a single mother..and no my father simply did not belong in the third i do..but i credit that the all loving nature of my mother..where the conquest was only love..and never human being…

    1. Thank you for your comments and for sharing your personal story. Sadly, children are often seen as bargaining tools or weapons in a nasty fight in which they should have no part. That is why I am very ambiguous about the whole Agamemnon, Electra, Orestes story.

  6. Sadly it is all too common to blame the woman since, of course,she wanted a child in the first place. How can people forget it takes two to have kids, most of the time. One wishes things would evolve. Efficient use of myths in this poem, Marina Sofia.

    1. It’s tempting to read into the myths and the tragic end that most of these women had the misogyny of the times, but I think the point is exactly the one you make: that bitterness and revenge, however justified they may seem, are not rewarding.

  7. Last I checked, the father’s played a part in the conception of their children too! It’s so sad that so many dads aren’t willing to “man up” and become fathers. I admire greatly those women who have the strength to be single moms, but feel sorry for those children who would benefit so much more if they had TWO loving parents!!

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