Those Romans – they got it wrong.
Couldn’t believe that a useless woman
Could torch their almighty cities,
Batter their legions to pulp.
So you see, they created a monster,
harridan fit to be hated.
But it wasn’t me.
I spent my days
Doing appropriate things.
Keeping my children tidy,
Then he died. And the Romans came.
They raped my daughters. They flogged me.
They stole our land.
So I was in love with hate,
With the scent of blood,
With dead piled high for Adraste in the screaming grove.
I remember those Roman women:
They were brought before me
To consider the matter of ransom.
But they looked down their high-born noses
At this loud barbarian
And told me to ‘let them go
Lest worse should befall me.’
Worse? Than my daughters’ terror,
Than the tearing metal
Slashing across my shoulders?
I arranged them like flowers, neat for Adraste’s pleasure,
A ring of red roses staked to the hungry
earth. After that my daughters were silent.
I became what they made me, those Romans.
A fury from out of their nightmares.
And now I am what you have made me.
A decorous matron, promoting another empire.
I and my daughters, here by the constant Thames.
They still have their legions, those Caesars,
Controlling the world.
By Sally Roberts Jones