Meleager Redux, or Even Your Mother Has Her Limits

Death of Meleager by Francois Boucher (1727). LACMA Collections

He’s Mama’s boy, saved by her hand
pulling from fire the witches’ brand,
foretelling its ash would mean his death.
And so he grows, with easeful breath,
a noted hero in the land.

He loves a girl in a huntress’ band,
but she loves no one, takes a stand
that “He could never take a wife:
he’s mother’s.”

Cited for bravery, the girl is damned
by the mother’s brothers, who feel unmanned.
He kills his uncles with his knife.
News reaches home. Anger is rife.
Momhood be damned: the coals are fanned.
He smothers.

[Diane Kendig‘s latest book is Prison Terms (Main Street Rag, 2017).  With Robert E. McDonough, she co-edited the tribute anthology In the Company of Russell Atkins (Red Giant Books, 2016). Kendig’s poems have appeared in J JournalWordgatheringValparaiso Review, and other journals. Curator of the Cuyahoga County Public Library weblog, Read + Write, she is on the web at]