Drafting: “To Zeus, After the Swallowing”

I’m home after a month long stint in Spain. I’m still jet-lagged, still adjusting to being home with pets that follow me around incessantly and luxuries like air conditioning. It’s probably going to be a couple of days (or longer) before things back here feel a little more “normal”. I did want to upload a draft process for a piece I wrote while still in Spain. I want to say I didn’t write a lot creatively while I was gone, but when I really look at things, I did. I journaled frequently. I wrote two poems, plus the ideas for a few others. I also wrote a CNF piece as part of a class assignment that I’m planning on working on more. Overall, I have a lot of stuff I can use later, and that’s promising.

While riding on the train from Alicante to Madrid (a 3 and a half hour trip), I was feeling in the mood to write, so I opened up my computer and looked through some draft ideas. Sometimes, if I have an idea for a poem, I might just write a line or two in a word document, save it, and then come back to it later. Sometimes, whole poems arise out of these ideas, or sometimes I just  pull the line into another poem.

After opening and closing several of the word documents, I came upon one that was inspired by the myth of Zeus swallowing Metis, another poem idea from Sonja Livingston, one of the readers on my thesis committee. In the myth, an oracle prophesied that Zeus would have children with Metis, and that they would be so powerful that they would one day overthrow him. Zeus went ahead and slept with Metis anyway, but he was so worried about the inevitable, that he tricked her into turning into a fly and then swallowed her. He had constant headaches (supposedly because Metis was inside him hammering out armor for their daughter). Later, Athena burst through his skull, fully-grown, in full armor.

What was most interesting to me about this myth was the idea of Metis carrying their child inside of him. While the myth doesn’t include anything about Metis after Athena breaks out, I was interested in her.

The poem begins,

“I build a nursery for our daughter in your heart’s
left ventricle, paper the walls with rind.”

The poem is currently in five stanzas of four lines each. Originally, it started out in third person, but I had just read Sandy Longhorn’s poem, “Fevers of a Minor Fire” up on Linebreak. I was interested in the emotional closeness created by a letter. So, it became one from Metis to Zeus, of what it’s been like for her building a home for their daughter inside of his body, about how angry she is about doing it alone, and how she hopes her own daughter won’t fall prey to men.

I’ve since edited it and sent it off to a journal which doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions. Since a lot of my other myth poems were snapped up quickly, I’m curious to see how this one will go.

As always, happy writing. I’ve been reading some of your blog posts and been so jealous about some of your productivity! Here’s to hoping I’ll be able to write much more myself this summer!

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