Magali Alabau

Poems from

Electra, Clytemnestra.

Translated by Anne Twitty.


I, like a voice
a wailing ewe
understand that if I am Ulysses
you will have to do away with me.
Orestes who swiftly draws the knife
Clytemnestra bites down on her daughter's death
and the sun hides
Electra, Electra, Electra runs, her passion
Electra flies
Electra contracts
and crosses
Clytemnestra, how can you give your hand to Aegisthus?
How can you gore me?
How can you?
Yes, Electra engraves on her memory
Ulysses' ships leaving harbor
When the boat sprinkling water on its oars surrenders
and waves lap envy toward Helen
Clytemnestra, Electra wails.
What are you looking at?
The horror so great
Iphigenia on the pyre that turns and turns
Iphigenia and Electra
A splinter pierces their eyes
Iphigenia crosses between the two.
Bled: venom the sight as father kills daughter
The pyre
Electra envies her sister
The blood flows
A gush of red my vein in yours, Clytemnestra.


The stone steps turn to stones
When he returns
my daughter will be washed in blood
Aegisthus, nail yourself into my legs
Corrupt my womb
Rip the night away
Sink fury deep in me
Strike at a gallop
Exile me
Jolt the pact between man and woman
Sow terror, execute.


They never saw each other again.
On the stone stairway, two red lines
each one tugging rage behind it.
Swollen eyes scrutinize each other.
Clytemnestra's exhale purple
Electra scrunches the violet eyelids on her thighs.
The sewn mouths
On the stone stairway they know each other
and move,
red whips ascending, descending,
One is a trunk between legs.
Horns thrusting inward, the other thread.
That's how mother and daughter unite
and crouch, stoning each other
to clean the stones of Mycenae.


at 5 in the morning
a spider seizes her face.
Black, black, black, black spider
and red
like a hook in the ear
gnaws at her head.
Worms in caves cower;
orifices foreboding of danger.
Electra howls omens
from one side to the other
pupils slash at the mystery.
One side of the head splinters wood;
the other gyrates, spinning what?
the honed hand
rehearses and crunches
and closes.
Electra is male.
In the center of her breasts are tongues:
a knife, an axe, a great mast.
Clytemnestra is water, sea, lake,
Electra rises, ready, reaches the door,
hears the moans.
Clytemnestra in her ritual does not wait
bathing her lover in saliva
tadpoles suckling shame from her mouth
Electra hears her mother
and begins to paint circles and craters
In the doorway
fingernails are devoured by teeth.
Electra acts, Electra bites.
She becomes her father,
trembles, falls in front of the door.
Like a shackled wolf she whirls and turns and turns.
She can't.
Bettered, she throws herself into a wave. It is 7. She bathes.
Stones swirl against her feet, crabs put her to sleep.
Tomorrow is Thursday. I will return to this door every night.


Year after year till the victor's phallus returns,
there where I gave birth, daily a setting of flowers;
lamps of smeared

Electra, I sense you
one eye in your mouth peers at me.
You have that monster's face.
Don't spy on me,
through every one of your listenings
I will fall 100 times to a spew of milk sea.
Don't spy on me,
hide your face.
Empty your child eyes into my womb.
I don't want to lose your.
Swim, sink into the pillow.
Ignore my howls
my swoons, they will crucify you.
Each time you stop in the doorway I fail to see you.
I see a trunk, some eyebrows
bear paws holding a little girl.
Leave, listen to me: get out.

The Remains

The sea is a tattered web
with a lone ship hauling the dead.
The ship veers gray,
nears its fearful prow.
Electra at the window.
Orestes at the window.
Mute clusters crouch in the doorways.
averting herself down the stairs.
Solitary shadow against the sand.
Perplexed, the Tiresians lower the cargo.
They place a rectangle
in the circle.
The last witness renders Clytemnestra
Iphigenia's last message:
a blindfold.
The tools lie in the sand.
Nothing remains but Clytemnestra
and a hollow pit.
Now she goes back;
eyes do not see, do not wail, do not meet.
Eyes are two cloths
effigy eyes.
The room is waiting.

Magali Alabau

(Cienfuegos, Las Villas, Cuba, 1945) Founded in 1968 with the playwright Manuel Martin the "Duo Theater" dedicated to experimental theater. Worked as an actress with the "Duo Theater" and "La Mama". Founded in 1974, with Ana María Simo, the women's theater company "Medusa's Revenge". Abandoned acting in 1985. Her published works are Electra, Clitemnestra (1986); La extremaunción diaria (1986); Ras (1987); Hermana (1989); Hemos llegado a Ilión (1992); Hermana/Sister (1992), Liebe (1993). Received the Cintas fellowship in 1990. Her book Hermana won the Prize of Poesía Latina by the Latin American Writers Institute in 1992.