'The Women of Troy' by Jane Roberts
When rosy-fingered Dawn dances over the rocky outcrops, the women of Troy are washing the undergarments and tunics of the Trojan soldiers in the river. They cleanse war from the wool fibres with practised fingers.
The women of Troy are given pathetic epithets by the Great Poet in his epic. Weeping and wailing, the women of Troy wash. Wretched wailing and weeping. Still the women of Troy wash the undergarments and tunics of the soldiers in the river.
Up in the palace there is weeping and wailing. Queen Hecuba. Cassandra. Andromache. The Woman of Troy – lovely-haired Helen – who is not from Troy, yet will define this city for eternity. None of these women have yet washed the undergarments and tunics of the men who fight this war. These women will be heard crying from the lofty battlements of Troy, beseeching both gods and enemy to spare their kith and kin. Down below, where the misfired pleas fall leaden onto the ever-death-hungry, blood-libated earth, the women of Troy are washing the undergarments and tunics of the soldiers in the river.
The god-like men of Troy let the city fall to the ground. The royal beauties are sorted in the Greek camps, most dispatched to the ships. The Greeks fight over these spoils of war like frenzied hounds picking at scraps of flesh on the mangy carcass of a once prized horse.
Now the unnamed women of Troy are washing the undergarments and tunics of the Greek soldiers in the river, wailing and wondering: wondering if they would fare better at war than their menfolk; wondering why they are still washing and are not sent to the ships – as the blood and fragmented soil of their patriarchy escapes the river, weeping out into the wine-red sea.