Women have cried over my confinement
in hell by a husband who loved me so
he could not turn away
could not abide the caveat.
These long dark days
I have not lived yearning for him.
Did you really believe he wanted me
on earth with him?
The beloved singer?
What would he sing if I were there?
For his song he needed me
buried beneath the crushing ground
star-crossed love that could never vanish
because it never was.
He didn’t desire a woman
bloody with menstrual rituals
whose body once luminous would be taken by time.
Orpheus could not accept such a betrayal.
He wanted me as nymph, not crone.
Even more than age
he feared my voice.
Afraid it would rise above his.
What did he know of suffering and forgiveness?
I was the one severed from the sun
shut in subterranean darkness
barely enough oxygen.
He could have joined me the day I descended.
A knife to his throat, a serpent to his breast.
But he did none of these.
Came to me later by other hands.
I have no use for him.
by Chella Courington, first published in NonBinary Review.
Editor’s Note: This lament follows a non-standand direction—the narrator is not mourning a loved one, but rather, mourning what could have been with a less narcissistic husband.