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.