Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Turns out I'm doing okay! Here's a new one based on the Odyssey. That's Sean Bean in the picture, being a legend.
Lacking options, he summons
the weak-necked dead,
hoping for counsel
and direction home
from long-winded Tiresias.
Lacking a spade, Odysseus hollows
out a sump with his sword,
sweetens the soil with honey-wine,
wheat-flour and water.
His mother, Anticleia,
breezes by his elbow
without meeting his eye,
as oblivious to their reunion
as any of the dead.
He reaches out to her
for the first time in years.
His arms pass through her like mist.
Anticleia danders on
among the crowd, still avoiding his gaze
like an embarrassed acquaintance.
With a sacrifice her eyes are opened. Heart
in bloodied mouth, she dithers for words.
Her voice barely holds long enough
to tell the whole sorry tale:
Penelope harassed by lechers;
Telemachus herding pigs;
Laertes nothing but skin and bone
in a miserable gardener’s get-up.
She stretches her ghost arms to his flesh
and bones and glides through them like air.
Odysseus gathers his nerves and speaks,
“What evil brought you here?
Some wasting disease? Artemis’ dart?”
“There was no violence about it, son.
I lost heart waiting for you to come home.”
Strong-shouldered Odysseus stumbles
to his knees and reaches for the hems
of his mother’s robe, which vanish like dew.
See you tomorrow,