Staff Submission: Patrick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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,

Menelaus?

 

“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,

Odysseus?

 

“Anticlus, you know where I am.

I am below the earth,

Deep in the realm

Of Hades’ kingdom.

I, a shade, call to you

From death:

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.

Hold me,

Anticlus.”

 

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.

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