sunset on a beach
Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

Plead for me Thetis by Chris Allen

Sing a song for the Shapeshifter (held in mortal space).

Her wedding gift (her unborn sorrow),

Achilles was his name.

I fear my daughter

will inherit the feuds of Agamemnon,

no therapon by her side,

I beg your guidance,

Pleading Thetis, who stayed her son from battle,

bestowed gifts of Hephaestus, and her favors

with the nod of Zeus. Once,

she saved the blacksmith,

her son she could not.

Shouts hang in her closet.

Supplying sustenance staves off only hunger.

A kiss can’t conceal the poison,

I’ve injected anger in her veins—

She’ll suffer fits of menis.

Prophecy hasn’t scribed her destiny,

she’ll scale Ilion walls someday.

My daughter is no demigod,

yet paths to Olympus persist.

Grant her, Nereid,

the same divine armor,

donned by the King of Myrmidons,

though steer her from conflict—

sharply, with words of wisdom and myths

of maniacal monsters, immortals, and men—

spare them her ferocity—

she’d drag them in circles—

spare them Priam’s grief.

Grant her, Nereid,

the power to reassign the apple,

may she only pass her anger onto her enemies.


Chris Allen is a genderqueer poet and parent. Their works are published or forthcoming with Consequence, Defunkt Magazine, Glass Mountain, Inkling, Press Pause, and Wingless Dreamer. They were awarded the Lillie Robertson Prize for poetry. They earned a BA creative writing from University of Houston and are an MFA candidate at Oklahoma State University.

Author's note

"Plead for me Thetis" was written when I was studying mythology, raising my first child, and beginning to deal with PTSD from my time in the Army. I was contemplating intergenerational trauma and how my actions were affecting my child. I saw much truth about life and war in works like the Iliad and other ancient Greek plays and myths. Thetis is a God and her child Achilles is doomed to live an angry, short, and violent existence. She tries to intervene in several ways, even approaching Zeus and attempting to work around him when it fails. I wanted my trauma and anger to be short-lived, I knew my child had already suffered some of the outbursts, but I didn't want that to become their reality, so this poem is parts me accepting and working through some of my issues, while projecting a more empowered and hopeful future on my child, as well as me invoking something higher to aid me in my role as parent. It is also an admission that fate is something we can struggle against, and while we might not subvert or undue our fate, perhaps we can expand the options of those who come after us if we both accept the position we have been put in and fight back against what that means or how it defines us. At its core it is about resilience, resistence, and refusal.