Excerpts from Medea/Sacrament
NURSE: Have the baby, honey, keep the baby alive,
Hold his bones together.
How are the pains?
WOMAN: Close.
NURSE: I feel the heart.
WOMAN: Shuddering.
WOMAN: Stop it.
NURSE: Too late.
You have to do it early,
As soon as you start to hold in your blood.
By now it’s got a mind of its own,
It won’t listen to you,
It’s got a mind of its own.
Sure you want to stop it,
Stop the tide.
Remember the yellow-hair princess?
She dreams an army of dolphins to stop the tide.
We laughed at that.
You thought you could stop things to happen by having dreams.
Dream it away.
Just try.
CREON: A marriage—
MEDEA: My marriage—
CREON: Your marriage was no marriage.
Your alliance to Jason was made in barbaric lands.
This is a kingdom with laws.
It is not valid here.
MEDEA: Then I scour my hands.
I had no husband, no children.
I shed no blood.
CREON: You talk of bloodshed, but we celebrate a marriage.
MEDEA: The two are coupled.
CREON: There will be no talk of death on a marriage day.
MEDEA: This is a kingdom with laws.
Death is not valid here.
CREON: Read the proclamation: you leave today.
MEDEA: Jason’s bride is not your daughter.
CREON: Jason’s bride—
MEDEA: Yourself.
You are his bride, he is yours.
Two politicians in sexless copulation.
It’s done by shaking hands.
Yes, my marriage was barbaric.
I chose a hero, and now I sleep with a politician.
He was lean, and now he quivers in layers of comfort.
He mistrusts his own muscle, he yokes his will to another’s hands.
He sees himself in the eyes of others: he never looks in the mirror.
He babbles of power, security, the future, the people, himself.
He’s such a fool.
The politician fathers children,
Stillborn, withered, it’s never noticed.
They feed at the table, they go to school, they marry, bear children,
They raise generations of dead.
He sits with the dead, the committees of dead,
The respected, elected councils of dead.
And the dead lay plans to enlarge the parliament of dead.
You have wedded my husband.
You bed him in shame.
You have him pregnant,
Bloated with death.
PROF: Well there are laws. And many laws go back to these ancient times: the laws of a mother’s love, the laws of generation, the laws of getting and spending, the laws of eating breakfast, the laws of final exams, the laws of retribution, mitosis, and that is the process of civilization, the laws doubling, doubling, redoubling like rampant cells. I have it in the notes, and you can learn the ancient languages, the syllables, and understand it as little as they did then. I have it all in the notes. But they spoke in longer phrases then, a fuller pain, and they had no doctor-tested preparations to ease the itch. Their knives made wounds that never heal. And that’s the nature of sin: what makes a wound that never heals. And that’s why birth is original sin: it never, never heals.
JASON: I did love you. So many times.
We had a time of golden deeds, conquest and blood.
And at that time, it passed.
We had a time of exile, starvation, escape from the wolves,
And that time passed.
We had a time of refuge, safety, this land,
And raising the children, maturing, embracing, rejoicing.
That time has passed.
The time has come, for me, to take my place among other men,
Men with respect, with power,
Men who see life as it is, not as we’d like it to be.
That’s the order of things.
And for you.
I took you away from your father, your land,
You fought my battles, you bore my children, my visions, my dream. You’ve been like a slave.
So I give you freedom.
You told me once in your youth, and I remember your eyes:
A woman is grand, a woman is boundless,
A woman is the door from age to age,
All life enters through that door.
A woman moves to the song of the moon and the melting of snows in the moon.
I’ve remembered that.
Your spirit is too large to be contained in four walls.
You have your freedom.
You can be the creature, once again, who touched the shimmering fleece.
MEDEA: You give me freedom.
Then give me full breasts again.
Give me the legs, unbroken.
Give me the unscratched mirror.
PROF: She objects to the natural order of things. They stop at the truckstop for coffee, the old men at the window table. They sit by the table, eating. Today as every day. They know each other’s faces, they sag into each other’s lives, they plan to celebrate the other’s funeral, they trade their deepest beliefs on the sports scores. They observe the slow or sudden graying of hair. They nod at the waitress’s hips. They giggle, then choke. They mimic the snorting of stallions, Zeus on Europa’s flanks. Old men dying over their coffee, dying more each time she passes.
TAPE: The term suicide signifies the premature expulsion of the products of conception or the fetus.
PROF: If the waitress were dead. If she would only wrinkle, they might live out the year. But her breasts milk out their bone marrow, her flowering saps their juice. Their football scores mean nothing to her, she keeps no score. They dream of a leader to kill her, subdue her, destroy her and lead them off marching to war without paying the bill. They dream.
TAPE: The term suicide signifies the premature expulsion of the products.
PROF: And the young men, the lovers, those who have stopped with their girls at the truckstop for coffee, for love, to play the pinball and win the fleece, they rise and join the old men.
TAPE: The term signifies premature expulsion.
PROF: They sit at the window table. They trade. The girls are cleared away with the coffee cups. The natural order of things. To sit at the window table. Trading. Dying.
TAPE: Suicide implies the products of conception.
MEDEA: The oracle sends you. Have pity. Protect me.
Receive me into your land.
AEGEUS: I see.
MEDEA: Receive me in Athens.
AEGEUS: We’ve always lived in peace with Corinth.
Creon, I’ve known him all my life.
MEDEA: Help me.
AEGEUS: I sympathize.
But kings, you know, they always mistrust.
To harbor an exile. We’ve always lived in peace.
MEDEA: Protect me.
AEGEUS: Life is unfair.
But that’s the way men are: they go after younger girls.
And kings, they always mistrust. That’s the way they are.
MEDEA: Shelter me.
AEGEUS: And my people, you know.
They’ve heard the stories, wonderful stories, Jason, Medea, the golden fleece.
But Jason was father to glory, and you were midwife to demons.
No, I should pay my respects to Creon, but then I must go.
JASON: Medea...
MEDEA: Yes. But I’m gone. I’m alone.
I’m far away. My chariot drawn by dragons.
JASON: Save the children...
MEDEA: They’ll be with you. Deeply within you.
Those who’ve lost them are never without them.
The only ones who keep their children always.
JASON: No...
MEDEA: The seed of your love. Your love is dead.
JASON: Demon...
MEDEA: Yes. I gave them birth.
What more demonic thing could I do than give them birth?
JASON: Children...
MEDEA: The pangs come in waves. No stopping the surf.
I bear a deed. I am pregnant with death.
You are the father, your seed.
It grows, it starves the mother, it drains the bones,
It grows, it presses, it comes.
I say No I can’t bear it, but still it comes.
I spawn the dragon.
I’m alone.
I’m inside the ribs of the dragon.
He gapes and opens his wings.
I huddle inside.
JASON: Give me the children now. I can save the children.
You go free.
MEDEA: They have names.
Once they had names.
You should have spoken their names.
WOMAN: You never can tell.
Forget what might happen.
Have the baby, it grows up, it gets hit by a truck.
All the scars.
What if its eyes go wrong.
Thirty hours, what if the little fingers broke in the womb.
What if it fails the test, or what if it passes.
What if it learns the lessons we try to teach it.
What if it joins the assassins.
What if it reads the cards, and the cards begin to come true, but then it forgets what it’s read, but it knows they’re going to come true.
Where does the crying come from,
Some wound that never heals.
If something happened, I don’t think I could stay alive.
I guess I could stay alive.
People do stay alive.
They have babies.
They keep having babies.
They stay alive.