“Siren” by Patrick Jolley
They had been sitting in the horse’s belly
For ten long years, day on day,
Waiting for their glorious deaths.
When they were just within reach,
They heard their wives’ voices
From that sirenof Troy.
The wife of each one of them
Called out to them, in the voice
Only one would know:
“Menelaus! Menelaus! Don’t let him
Take me! Don’t let him, the little boy,
The one too cowardly to fight you,
My great king and husband.
He is not worthy of me, not worthy
To share my bed, to drink from my cup,
To invade me in the night, while you cannot
Even breach the walls of Troy.
What have you been doing for these ten years?
Waiting? Gorging yourself? Have you forgotten me,
“Odysseus, where are you? I might be dead,
I might have taken another, your son might
Not walk this earth—the son you never knew.
You have left me by myself for ten years, alone
In Ithaca, surrounded by vagabonds. Who knows
What has happened? Who knows what I have done?
Who knows how many tears have fallen through the night,
How many times I have called to you from a dream?
You will never know my suffering, my Odysseus,
My man of many ways. Why haven’t you come home to me,
“Anticlus, you know where I am.
I am below the earth,
Deep in the realm
Of Hades’ kingdom.
I, a shade, call to you
Come, be with me.
You are surrounded by death,
But you are not with
Me—that itself is death.
You know that.
You closed my eyes
Before you left, and have
Adorned the earth with
Your mourning, mixed
With your blood.
Close your eyes.
Grasp me once again.
And with bitter tears falling
As a stream from high, black rocks,
Anticlus opened his mouth, desiring death.
Odysseus, with one hand choking
The man, the other catching their mingled
Tears, squeezed Antilcus as he would
Have squeezed Helen had she been there,
With a death as dark as pity.