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March 15, 2023

Helen Was a Crybaby

Amanda Malone

by many accounts helen was a crybaby

was she stolen to troy or did she let herself

either way she wept amidst the topless towers

for her past in argos, wheeling its way back in

was she truly remorseful or did she feel guilt

at the ease with which she let herself want, forget

her fine menelaus, her daughter and parents

the ease with which she wrung her obligations off

or did she feel guilt at the image of herself

sliding into troy on a halfshell, she wanted

to start naked life, borne into paris’s arms

was it agency or the illusion of choice

sappho calls it love, but I say it is what you

wish ekphrasis could do, instead the beautiful

words go on telling you the same thing forever

not alive, but just the illusion of living

in troy helen could do nothing but weep and weave

images of a war she started but was not

part of in any meaningful way, she was not

that hot for paris anymore, or his weak arms

and on her knees at the shrine of vesta, the heat

from aeneas’s rage beading down her back she cried

for the thing she wanted, that she could love and not

give herself up, for her wraith made whole in troy’s flame


AMANDA MALONE is currently a PhD candidate in English at UC Irvine, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Davis. Her work has previously been published in Moon Cola Zine. She lives in Los Angeles and can be found at @amandahmalone on social media.

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