Achilles’s Sister

In the telling, they forgot

Achilles later had a sister

birthed through foam-flecked mourning.

Her mother labored, faint

as vapor, salt as sea, and pressed in her

a secret wound.  The wise

naids sang, “Let her be fair

as apple’s flesh, with a glance

of clouded mirrors, and let her be


to lie in idle love or waste

immortal minutes chipped from beggared fate

with words on her lyre and foxglove

on her fingertips.”


Thetis wept.


Still, daughters will be brides

to some besotted suitor with ember

looks and oiled locks; or else an air-couched god

who leashes muses and

crouches near her

cramping neck to whisper-whisper knifey somethings,

begetting in her slippery undine that

moan, breathe, bleed—

syllables burst full-grown from temples and


to lands beyond Mycenae,

beyond reach of laurelled, earth-girt men

of sturdy hips and corn-cupped hands

and jagged heels that shatter.

Contributor notes: Christie Ricardo blogs at Spinning Straw into Gold and her short story, “The Debt,” won an honorable mention in the 2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction: Selected Short Stories. She is fascinated with folklore, fairy tales, and the mythic tradition, particularly the role of Thetis in the Illiad, and what it means to be an artist and a woman, or if it’s perhaps the same thing.