Author: Carolyn Martin

After forty years in the academic and business worlds, Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, where she gardens, writes and plays with creative friends. Since the only poem she wrote in high school was red-penciled “extremely maudlin,” she is amazed she has continued to write. Her poems have appeared in publications throughout the US and UK and her second collection, The Way a Woman Knows, was released in February 2015 by The Poetry Box, Portland, OR (


Sisters conflicted over roles, Part II

(This interview has been edited for clarity and length)


Damn Antigone?

Yes, my words.

Gutsy, but understand

promises were made.


The script was clear:

I’d wear submission

like a crown

foiling her pigheadedness.

Then, in one iconic turn,

I’d follow her to death.


Yes, I take this personally!

She rewrote my part

and stole the stage,

dressed me in untragic flaws,

cast me against her wall.

Do shadows stand a chance?


A “foil,” she said,

“Understudy” isn’t you.


Who was she to know?

She missed the cues.

Never knew who I was

or how I grew.


No, not much left.

No family or crown.

No respect to rest

my laurels on.

I wear the same dress

every day and sit

in dust to wait.


For an oracle, of course.

One must surely come.

Ismene, she will say,

your fate is … thus and so.

I know there’s more:

another stage, script,

chance to prove a child

can outstrip a family curse.    


The closing scene,

it’s in my mind:

I exit right –

triumphant, even brave –

redeemer of my kin.


How? Who knows?

That’s what oracles are for.

But, can you see it now?

Royals frown,

townsmen bow,

prophets gasp,

Chorus sings

my praise on cue.

No more oblivion.

They know my name.

At last, they know my name.




(This interview has been edited for clarity and length)

Ismene? The youngest one?

Now there’s a piece of work I love.             


A foil? Of course! She obeys, I resist.

Deliberates to my impulsiveness.

Calls me obstinate

when I go for brave.

It’s a major story line:

my world is never hers;         

hers is never mine.


She wants what? Center stage?

Can you hear it now?

The chorus sings: Too weak …

untragic flaws … can’t bear

the weight of her father’s curse

or some such things.

Not the stuff of heroines!


Of course she’s swept aside.

What’s a stronger sister for?

Look. Here’s the bottom line:

in this doomed world

prophets come to taunt the great.

We’ve known this all our lives.

She’s better hiding in the dust

than waiting for the cue to die.

Enough. Let’s go back. You asked

about my father’s final days.