a portrait of andromache at the wall

inspired by book vi of the iliad


on the first day, he dons his shining armor and you weep, your tears falling tinny on the shield at his feet. the other wives question you through their proud smiles, but how can you explain to them that bronze is the color of a death sentence? you see not glory in its reflecting surface, but mother, father, brother, cut down like wheat, too soon, too soon.

you follow his marching footsteps as far as you can, listen for his shouts ringing out above the thundering, feel the fighting spirit fierce in his veins, and your heart strains with pride and terror. when they stop you at the wall of the city, you are left with only the memory of his calloused fingers catching your teardrops.

that wall is your temple, the closest to the battlefield that you will ever be, and you make pilgrimage to it every day. while other women pray to the grey-eyed goddess, you memorize the patterns of war, see his end in every soaring spear, press trembling fingers to your throat and say prayers to the unlistening fates. let him be wounded, you plea. bring him home to me, bloody but standing.

when he finally does come home it is too brief. you clutch his wrist and whisper words that you know he will not heed – the roar of battle is always calling him back. pressing close to his chest, you ignore the blood that stains your skirts and smile your goodbye through tears. your son, too young to understand, is left with a prayer and a kiss. clutching at your breast with his pudgy hands, he smiles a toothless grin at his father’s retreating back, greek blood smeared across his cheek.

2 thoughts on “a portrait of andromache at the wall”

  1. The scene of Andromache and Hector is probably my favorite one out of the whole Iliad. It’s such a beautiful representation of a family in the midst of war. And you portrayed the part of Andromache marvelously!
    (That passage of the epic also gives me hope that the Greeks actually did know what a good family looked like, even if they didn’t always praise it as a good one.)

    Like

    1. Amy —
      Thank you! I had a lot of fun writing this, and it’s cool to know that it connected with you. And yes haha, their family structure gives me hope as well for the greeks. Such a contrast between Zeus and Hector, and yet both are such revered characters in this mythology. Makes you wonder…
      emma

      Like

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