Odysseus = Greek form of Ulysses
Circe, Calypso, Nausicaa = girls Odysseus met on his voyage home.
Penelope = I assume she is rather like Guinevere, and actually possess lands.... mightr be a warrior queen, too, although we do not go there.
I imagine she holds green lands beyond Dodona.
Agamemnon= was killed after his return home by his wife, Clytemnestra and her lover. He was killed in his bath.
synopsis: The Greeks went to war in Troy for 10 years. Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, went to war under his obligations to Agamemnon. Odysseus made the god Poseidon mad, so it took him another 10 to get home, where Penelope was waiting, while 100 men sought her hand in marriage. She put them off by saying she would wed when her weaving was done. By day she wove and at night she unthreaded that which she had done during the day.
Penelope sits up late at the loom
that wove the dreams of twenty years,
wondering how to depict the full moon
playing in the wind-chased clouds.
Odysseus sits outside at the gate,
and when the moon filters through the trees,
it paints his skin with stripes, and he
looks feral as an argent tiger.
Look at him…. A wild thing!
Sitting just where he sat
Twenty years ago, wond’ring whether
to take ship and sail to war.
Still we sit here.
Ah, well. What of it? What more did I wish?
He has killed one hundred lusty suitors
who would take my torch to warm their beds…
he is devoted to me… or to my dowered lands!
Great meadows beyond Dodona lush,
not like the rocky shores of Ithaca!
Damn! Agamemnon… killed in the bath! Of all places!
Even great Agamemnon gone! – our lives
misplaced from throne room to out-buildings!
Every friend with whom I sailed to Troy
has left this world. I am the only one
remaining. Is this fate? Or accident?
The aegis of the goddess that covers
the porridge of our lives, the layered mush
of steel-cut oats boiling in a pot.
(Odysseus hears the ghost of his mother.)
My son, Odysseus…
O, you were the boy, the very best son!
I waited on your return…
I saw no sails, nor white nor black!
I fell into death, tripped like a orant
of Poseidon missteps and falls into
the cruel maw of the sea unyielding!
I have waited here since the first snows.
(Odysseus cries out faintly. One of Penelope’s ladies looks out the front door. His father, Autolycus, peers out into the night from his wooden hut by the barn.)
Ha! Two decades toil!... and now he sits alone!
That bitch! That shrewish and unfaithful wife!
I was here! I saw it all! I am no fool!
She wove not stories of the goddesses
and gods, no themes of the holy erotic!
She wove and embellished lovers’ messages
and pornography of delights upon
that loom to show the lucky prick of the
hundred aristocrats the pleasures she
would bestow… that very night upon the
panting suitors in their kennels wrapt!
What disturbs Odysseus?
He sits lonesomely.
If he broods upon
his lady wife’s fidelity…
well, for that I will avouch,
serving here long years.
(Sighing, Odysseus rises and turns to look at the bright window of his palace. Penelope has gone to bed.)
It seems that I am always waiting,
we straighten up what men disturb;
like Poseidon they quake the tender earth,
and women wait upon the littoral
to recreate after tidal waves.
(Odysseus enters silently, but she feels his presence fill the vacuum about her. He lays beside her. His skin seems surprisingly harsh, since she has been used to twenty years of lonely linen sheets.
Later, he is sleeping and Penelope thinks in the darkness…)
Some things never change…
He has kept in practice. That’s what comes from
hobnobbing with goddesses and witches!
I will not begrudge him Circe
nor the iconic Calypso, for when
a goddess beckons – or a woman with
an unnatural relationship with
herbs and snakes and circles where Faeries dance! –
it is best for man to answer
or they never find safe harbor!
But, Nausicaa! That tawdry little tramp!
a tart!... a whore!... playing at celebrity
and aristocratic ways… the duchess
of drop-my-britches! Men are such fools!
Twenty years, and he has not one friend left alive.
Twenty years of a war fought on a foolish whim,
an impulse erotic made disastrous!
There is no going back, and no need to
poison the future with
I am all there is left. His mother’s gone,
and his father is quite mad, thinking that
he is a young bull living by the barn!
It has been a long, long journey, apart
and together, in joy and in sorrow:
Where is the thread so strong, the dye so bright
to weave the line of this devotion?