body, bless his heart. He sails a subterrene landscape,
choppy hills & gore-warm flux, own shadow for gnomon,
no compass but a great bear rudely wheeling, grown
son a rift
& he unhinged, his self-sufficient
wife a border too far.
Within this contingent fluid
topography, the only trails are bladed algal
seaweed—brown, red, yellow-green. He nears the littoral.
Waves push him in.
Up to the escarpment: animal
tracks. Trees’ limbs blown down. He seizes a stick, scratches
marks the dream has sent. Tells himself they mean man of tropes & wrenching. Mean Wisdom, maybe,
mean no memory, no gods. His dry mouth starts
to shape them.
Not because he ought to.
Then he wakes.
I Confess to You Who Listen:
my mother is that deathly Queen Persephone’s
subject. I flashed my hellish sword as the wonder-worker
said to & held her, weeping, off. Did what I needed,
then let her sip at red/dark clouds of animal
coagulation, my offering to the un-breathing un
-embodied crowd. Bloody-mouthed, the woman knows me.
Tells crude truths. How fly-brood cadavers dry. How tendons
shred & ligaments loose bones: charcoal-makers’
sticks unbound. She died for want of her long-gone,
she who built me like a raft. I suspect she parches
for what’s liquid in me—worse than Oedipus &
his wife. Fancy figures can’t shield me. I confess
more: not because Circe ordered. To keep you waiting
who keep me on in our brief commons, your ears bent, hooked.
Another Episode Buried at Sea: Overhead
shearwaters veer, debating his chances, his girlish
facile infidelities, which they admire,
pass on. He passes on, or will, our mobile
Odysseus, remembering immemorial singers,
how they placed in the sea’s abyss the whole
in small: lie well & learn; feint & stay true;
forgotten is dry bones. But what song’s that for a sailor boy, sea dog, pollywog, old tarpaulin,
storm-scoured gob? Those gals are fathomless.
Out of control, they break the code. They offer
mooring—a new unauthorized field of view.
Maybe sisters, maybe lovers, they show us
every song’s a chronicle of Sing! Show, on their unnamed island, wasted Troy’s corpse.
Jeanne Larsen teaches in the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins University. Her new book is What Penelope Chooses, forthcoming early in 2019 as winner of the Cider Press Review Book Award. She is also the author of two other books of poetry, two of literary translations of poems by medieval Chinese women, an e-novel, and three print novels.