A Mother's Lament

This was a kinda last minute entry for Utter!Prime Numbers - I hadn't been expecting to perform but Richard had a last minute drop out so I came up with this - the challenge being to write a poem based on a certain prime number, mine being '41'.

On the basis that 41 is the atomic number of the element niobium, I decided to do a piece on the tragedy of Niobe from Greek myth, daughter of Tantalus who was turned to a weeping stone statue for insulting a goddess. Full details of the myth can be found at the Encyclopedia Mythica.

A Mother’s Lament
A challenge on the number ‘41’

This is the meaning I’ve been forced to.
Falling short of the meaning of life. Perhaps.

I’ve plenty of time to spend on deep thought
Since deep in the webs of folly I’m caught.
My heart, my words, my hubris eternal
Bound into bedrock of loving maternal.
I am punished for a crime of true passion
Their whimsy and recourse was all quite irration-
All spiteful and vicious – my kids laid to rest
And just because one… ‘lady’ can’t take a jest.

I’m sure you’ll agree I’m the victim
Of a system that cares not for family values,
Or justice, stability, in these dangerous times.
I came from a broken home… my dad’s in prison
Right up to his neck in it, you could say.
He chopped up my baby brother, threw him in the stew –
Pelops à l’Ambrosia. (He never fully recovered, despite the surgery.)
But I got past this, put it behind me, moved on up,
Married a prince of Zeus no less; dutiful Queen of Thebes.
Fourteen children I bore him - seven boys, seven girls, I’ll see no more.
And all I said were words of truth, the numbers do not lie.
Fourteen does beat two by fertility’s count; yet this caused offence
She sent her twins to deliver doom disproportioned,
The golden boy with fists of rage, the feral girl with poisoned shafts.
For what? A slightly drunken jibe – no intended slight!
So it might have been her feast day…
And yes, she is a Titan’s daughter...
But it’s only human to be proud of one’s achievements!

So here I weep
By the mountain steep
While they do nothing to earn their keep.
Running wild,
Both easily riled;
I don’t know why they’re not reviled.
A slip of the tongue
And they slew my young;
No more to excel,
I watched as they fell
My pride and my joy
Now teary envoy.

Hades knows there’s no justice for a real mother.