Aphelion Issue 294, Volume 28
May 2024
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

Iphigenia’s Womb

by Eric Robert Nolan

Once I knew a girl
Whose porcelain upturned face
Beseeched a passive sky.

I burned her.
I had to – every ship failed to sail
Against Troy – the Gods-confounded winds beached each.

And I, Agamemnon, made my choice.
And it was predictable. We men
Burn our beauty before us.

Her strawberry blonde hair was cast aside
In her innocent up turned look.
"Father," her eyes implored — just that one word.

I ignited
The oil at her feet. I had to.
Elsewhere, Troy
Garlanded its absconded Helen,
The fairest face of Greece. We
Needed the reprieve of vengeance. We men
Burn our beauty before us.

The male predilections
For conquest, competition
Lead us to construct vast horses
Of legerdemain, and besiege cities.

But the Gods’ dissatisfaction
Made our armada static.
All those still warships
Sat flatly on a windless sea.

So I sacrificed.
She looked up. Her eyes implored me but
Still my hand fell to light the oil.
We men
Burn our beauty before us.

When the flames first lapped her ankles
Her uncomprehending look
Never changed. Nor did she move
To scale the inverted-pyramid pit
Of the high altar.

The silk of her gown turned black.
Her white legs darkened into charcoal.
Iphigenia’s womb became a furnace.
Her white arms lit up in a frenzy.
Her strawberry hair became a conflagration.
Her pleading wide eyes became burning mirrors –
Crimson-gold to reflect the fire.
Her rose cheeks crisped into orange.
Her mouth was a bright, lean kiln
Where desperate whispers were forged.
"I love you," she told me.
Flames raced to her lips.

© 2015 Eric Robert Nolan

Eric Robert Nolan's debut novel is the postapocalyptic science fiction story, 'The Dogs Don't Bark In Brooklyn Any More.' It was published by Dagda Publishing on November 19th, 2013, and is available at Amazon.com both in paperback and for Kindle. This will be the first of a series of books entitled 'The Wolf War Saga.'

Eric's poetry and short stories have been featured by Dagda Publishing, Every Day Poets, Every Day Fiction, Illumen, Dead Beats Literary Blog, Dead Snakes, Tales of the Zombie War, The Bright Light Cafe, The International War Veterans' Poetry Archive, and elsewhere. His poems were also included in anthology format in Dagda Publishing's 'Threads' in September 2013. Eric's science fiction/horror short story, 'At the End of the World, My Daughter Wept Metal,' was published in January 2014 in Dagda's short story anthology, 'All Hail the New Flesh.' For more of Eric's work, please see https://ericrobertnolan.wordpress.com/.

Find more by Eric Robert Nolan in the Author Index.

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.