Filling myself up







from the darkest




in which


I dwell.


Each word

is a spark—

an ember blown up fiery against the dark sky


—smoke and mirrors—


the slow blossom

of color

swirling through thick liquid,


captured in the

wobbly lens of amber memory.


The Words are larger than myself.

Their fire bursts forth tearing my pores,

charring my bones,

the chemical catalyst of my flesh

metamorphosed utterly

into its former self.


The breath of gods is inhaled only as an immolation,

and exhaled


as a terrible




You wake seemingly for no reason at all. Half-asleep, you note two things. One: it’s a nuisance to wake up in the early hours of the morning because you already have to wake up at four o’clock. Two: the time is four-thirty. Huh. Four o’clock, and it’s four-thirty. This thought leads to the ambling realization that the alarm you set has failed, and you’re out of your bed, stumbling across the floor, before you manage to think of anything else.

With an odd, stumbling gait you practically dive into your clothes. What you choose doesn’t have to look good. It doesn’t even have to match—well, yes, it probably ought to match, but it won’t matter because if you’re late to the airport, your best friend is going to kill you, and no one will find the body. You pull on your clothes as quick as you can, clumsily because you’re still half-asleep, and now you’re in a hurry. You rush into the bathroom, and the mirror does you no favors. The smooth surface cheerfully reflects your sleepy eyes and disheveled hair. Your efforts to fix both are practically nonexistent. Suddenly, your reflection isn’t staring back at you. It’s someone else. You blink, and your face stares back.

Okay, that was weird. You really are still asleep. For a brief moment, you consider climbing back into bed. But no, you promised to get your best friend from the airport, and you’ll do it. With renewed energy, you grab your keys and head to the car. You are never getting up this early again. Next time, your friend can take a taxi.



The holidays are finally over. You climb into bed, grateful for the warmth and promise of sleep. Your dreams are a strange, disjointed mess, filled with wars and blood. And people screaming in Greek.

When you wake, the dreams are still there, lingering in your mind, but they’re not worth staying in bed for—even though it’s going to be unpleasantly cold once you free yourself from your cocoon of blankets. They’re strange. Your bed is strange.

Why? You haven’t the faintest idea. It just is.

Confused, you make your way to the bathroom. The mirror, again, does you no favors, and someone else’s face stares back at you. Who is that? What is that? You stare and blink, but the face never leaves. Cassandra. Tragic, dear seeress Cassandra. Dear God, you’ve lost your mind.



You know you’re insane when you begin hallucinating that you’re Cassandra, Troy’s famous prophetess, but this, in a bizarre way—that makes sense to you—isn’t alarming in the least. It feels right. It’s terrifying, the feeling of him—of another person, another conscious being in your mind. It’s terrifying, but it’s strange and wonderful and right. In some bizarre way, you are Cassandra, a legendary seer, because who else would you be?

It’s all reincarnation, which you didn’t believe in once but must believe in now. Because it’s true.



The awe of being Cassandra reincarnated wears thin at times. The woman isn’t constantly there. She seems to come and go through some sort of mental door whenever she pleases. Mostly, she just makes snide comments. Coffee? Seriously? How do you drink that?

Cassandra hates coffee. She hates being awake. When she’s awake, she has visions. Cassandra likes to sleep, likes to enfold herself into the soft embrace of Morpheus, where she dreams of a silver-eyed woman with soft blue robes, a woman whose name Cassandra never tells you. You’re not even sure if Cassandra knows the woman’s name, but the prophetess loves her, whoever she is.

The woman dislikes practically everything you do, and she’s bizarrely critical of your clothing choices. Too constricting, she announces about jeans. How are you going to run if you need to?

You consider seeing a professional. Really? Cassandra scoffs. And how would that help? It’s not as if I’m going away.

Part of you knows that you’re not really crazy, and this is really happening. It’s that small bit of you that is both yourself and Cassandra simultaneously that knows this, and you can’t quite bring yourself to do anything about it.



Cassandra isn’t exactly forthcoming as to why she’s been reincarnated. The few mental conversations where you’ve broached the topic all end with her snapping, Will you stop asking questions?

Cassandra’s dreams speak louder than her thoughts. She dreams more of the woman in blue. The woman in blue, silver-eyed daughter of Zeus, the woman who promises that, yes, yes, yes, everything will be fine. She says that, but she doesn’t lie. She never lies to Cassandra. It’ll end, and you’ll be victorious, Cassandra. Victorious! I’ll stay with you.

Cassandra already knows she’s dying. She knows before Agamemnon burns Troy, before Odysseus’s Trojan Horse, before Helen, before it all. She knows when Apollo cracks her—part of her is still afraid—and when the woman in blue appears. The woman in blue believes Cassandra and believes in her. She’s the only one who does.

The woman is never there when everyone else is. Cassandra used to think she wasn’t real. “Who is she?” you ask.

Cassandra doesn’t answer. She never does.



Helen of Troy isn’t beautiful when she cries. Her eyes are red and puffy. She sniffles. It breaks Cassandra’s heart because Helen isn’t really a bad woman. She’s young and has no idea—not really—that she’s been deemed worthy of Destiny. Men die for her, and she hates it. She feels bound in chains, and she has no idea how tightly. Helen prays to the goddess of peace, which will come at a high price. The end is near. Helen will die. Cassandra, too.

It’s then that you find the courage to say, “There’s something bad happening, isn’t there?”




Cassandra thinks about dying. She thinks about it a lot. She thinks about it and a tall woman in blue.

Cassandra doesn’t admit that fear claws at her stomach. She doesn’t want to die. Not really,

You write the names of all the Grecian goddesses on a list and try to find Cassandra’s woman. She isn’t Athena; Athena is too gold, too bright, too glorious.

Cassandra makes no comment on the names, instead choosing to fill your head with the jittery, uncertain excitement that something is about to happen, and you need to do something about it. She doesn’t clarify—if she even knows.

Some things even Cassandra can’t see.



Cassandra ceases to make snarky comments. You note it and wonder what, precisely, to do about that—if anything at all. You debate on it for a while, but before you can decide, Cassandra

emerges, invading your metaphorical mental space, and says, It’s her.

The person in question isn’t a her. It’s a he. “What?” you mutter.

Her, Cassandra insists, her attention focused on the young man with dark hair and green eyes, who is standing at the bus-stop, texting on his phone. Her! It’s her! That’s Eirene!

The moment she says it, you know it’s true. The woman in blue finally has a name. Eirene. Irene. The silver-eyed sister of Athena.

Those eyes are just like Eirene’s. Exactly. She may be a young man, but she’s still very much Eirene, daughter of Zeus and Thestia. You approach him, and both you and Cassandra smile. “Hello. Eirene?”

The man glances at you and shakes his head. “You must be mistaking me for someone else.”

There is no teasing in his gaze. Eirene doesn’t remember you. But she…how could she not remember you? She was the one who always knew everything! She was the calm before and after the storm, the one who said death was victory, the one who held Cassandra’s hand as she bled onto old, stained stones. “Oh…sorry, you just look like someone I know. From behind.”

“Ah. Okay.”

He goes back to texting. That is Eirene, though. It is! Maybe she doesn’t know yet, but it’s definitely her. “Can I give you my phone number?” you ask.

Eirene raises an eyebrow. “Um, really, I’m sorry, but I’m just not interested. Asexual. Sorry.”

“I’m not trying to ask you out!”

The bus stops. “Right. Well, bye now!”

With those words, Eirene leaves.



You hang the list on your refrigerator. The names seem to mock you. Cassandra retreats in

silence, but she can no longer hide the sharp pain she feels when she, too, sees the names. “Sorry,” you mutter one night, knowing she’ll understand your intent.

She doesn’t answer. She never has and never does.



Cassandra doesn’t make any appearance. She creeps back to the place where she goes when she wants to ignore you, and she stays there. Only the occasional dream slips through, and it’s always Eirene, Eirene, Eirene.



Life goes on. The world hasn’t ended, even without Cassandra’s assistance. No potential gods, goddesses, or heroes have come forward. In fact, you’ve not seen anyone familiar since Eirene. Maybe this was all a mistake.

Maybe you’re just not Cassandra material.

Maybe whatever god or cosmic force thought you ought to be her made a mistake. You’ve failed. Both of you have.



It’s the last day of November. You enter your house, grateful for the warmth, and stop in your tracks. Sitting in your living room, sprawled over the couch, is a young man with dark hair and green eyes. He holds a piece of paper in one hand and his phone in the other. “Terrible of you to keep me waiting, Cassandra,” the man says.


The sly green eyes meet yours. “The one and only,” the man says. “Close the door, won’t you?

You’re letting in a draft.”

Wordlessly, you close the door. “Out late, aren’t you?” Eirene asks, glancing at her phone. “It’s nearly midnight.”


Eirene purses her lips. “It’s very good to see you,” she says after some length.

“You, too.”

Eirene nods. “Do you know what we’re supposed to be doing?” you ask.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t.”

“You really don’t know? You always have the answers.”

Her smile is sad. “I only know that I’ll be needed at the end. I’ve never had all the answers, Cassandra.”

She’s right. She hasn’t. “You’re looking for the others?” Eirene asks, waving the piece of paper that you realize is your list.

“Yeah. Maybe.”

“That’s a good place to start,” Eirene says. “I don’t know exactly what we’re supposed to be doing, but it certainly wouldn’t be bad to have some of the heroes on our side, would it? Though, the years haven’t been too kind to Agamemnon and Troilus, have they? Some of the things people say!”

“They’re no worse than the things people say about you.”

Eirene laughs bitterly. “They say very little about me,” she says. “It’s depressing, but I think I’ll survive.”



12:01 AM. Eirene smirks and crosses her name of the list.

           A jury of 12 women finds she acted in self-defense


Of course I killed the Achaean.

He sacrificed our daughter. Iphigenia

moves through me, as a memory through muscle

I remember sometimes my legs.

My legs belonged to a dancer, a ballerina of certain

circus acclaim, pointing and pirouetting

on an elephant’s seductive back.

The poster hangs still on my wall

painted in red and yellow,

daring black lines.


Agamemnon killed Iphigenia, you know,

for a wind whistling from her lungs.

I could have whistled for his fleet, air rushing

from my lungs as I fell and kept falling.

I remember my left thigh near the hip

broken in a field of horses’ hooves

like thunder gods. I could’ve whistled

but for the dry grass yellow with August.


Then there was Cassandra.

I remember how important eyelids were,

blinking away blood arcing from my ax,

a red rainbow (spatter patterns, the detectives said.)

Iphigenia moves through my womb again,

wraps her legs to climb the soft tissue,

whistles my heart.


of Atreus again, unwilling to go in.
She wonders why she keeps finding herself here.
She pretends to wonder.
She tells anyone who will listen, but they’ve
all got their iPods on, all got their earbuds in.
So she points to the blood seeping under the doorsill.
It’s like a movie, or a movie trailer.
The paving stones are ragged discards.
She plays hopscotch on her way to the stoop.

With her sunglasses on, Cassandra can see
rays of rain descending from the clouds to the south,
where everyone else still sees blue,
a puffy whiteness around the edges.
She cannot have a normal life
but pretends to have one, anyway:
two kids, a boy and a girl.
He’s an artist, she’s an athlete.
Neither one has ever rolled his or her eyes
or blamed her for being what she is.
When she sits on the bleachers
with the other parents
they all forgive her for wearing last year’s spirit
clothes, in red and black.
It’s still the same team, the Mighty Amazon,
a band of archers on white chargers
digging the ball before it touches the polished floor,
passing to the wine-dark setter, spiking the punch
over the top of the net to the other side,
not a soul able to handle that white fire.

and watches, more amazed than annoyed,
while everyone listens to him. The barn still burns down
when Gus uses a hand-held flame thrower to kill weeds,
but they win the Trojan War
and the Student Council convinces the administration to approve open lunch.
Cassandra’s imaginary daughter uses mascara
and an eyelash curler. Nobody’s heard of backlash.
How can women liberate themselves
if Agamemnon can’t even get his head out of a towel
long enough not to get murdered in his own bathtub?
Not believing in linear time is not the same as the Power of Now.
Not believing in linear time is not the same as schizophrenia.
Cassandra resents psychological interpretations
of her prophecies.
That’s just more backlash, which, like her, nobody’s heard of.