(A/N: This is a companion piece to my much earlier poem, 'Eva': both are inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s anthology ‘The World’s Wife’, a look at History’s neglected and misunderstood women. This is a modern take on the character of Electra.)
Electra, my best friend with the electric tongue,
who pretended to be eccentric and eclectic,
when really she was just dull and at it for the hell of it – for fun.
You see, her dad left her when she was ten,
ever since then, she’d been into older men.
And her mum? One thing’s for sure:
she was getting more than that old fish.
She wasn’t particularly pretty, but she knew how to flick
her eyeliner into wings, and could do beautiful things with her smile –
a sonnet between the quotation marks of her dimples.
She had mood ring eyes, like the metallic paint on her nails;
they changed colour in different lights. A tantrum worked up a storm
of grey swirling around the whirlpool of her pupil.
One wrong word and they flashed black. A few good ones
and there'd be a golden halo in the sea of green.
She dyed her hair brown-black to give her that femme fatale look...
I’m the one who held a knife to their step brother’s throat,
told him one more touch and I’d slice him up and leave him to float,
bloated down the canal. But that was the day the Clooney look-a-like
dumped her (that one was married, they usually are) and there were
no words of comfort for me – just tissues and insults and trash TV.
And her men. She wanted them out of her bed within the hour.
Sometimes they'd send her flowers; roses, their red too dark for stop
signs. I’d get the chocolates - she said they’d make her fat,
and what did that matter to me? They wrote her love letters -
she'd read them aloud with mock theatricality, then leave them
to wilt in the waster-paper bin; unmissed, unwished for,
with their uncounted kisses. I stole the occasional one -
when she was seeing the would-be poet. I'd read his odes,
his almost-prose - his pathetic, poetic ruse - only wishing
I was the muse, and he'd written everything for me.
It was all a game, and it had to be exciting to keep her playing -
if she got bored she'd ring the bloke's home phone to stir things up a bit.
Love was just another four letter word, dirtier than most to her.
I kept waiting for 'the one' - who'd be more than just another 'Big O' -
the heart-breaker, the lion tamer, the one to break her up
and break her in. He turned up eventually; a rogue, much more rebel
than her. Used her, put her through hell, played the part well -
then when he was sure he'd curled her round his finger,
unceremoniously dumped her, and whispered how she was just
another stupid little girl... She stopped answering my calls,
so I went banging on her front door; but she'd never let me in,
and never would.
The police found her car. All I remember about them dragging her
from the water were the two furrows ploughed by her heels in the sand.
That and her eyes rolled upwards, exchanging pleasantries
with the heart of a cold dead star.