Monday, December 14, 2009

Aged Ulysses


My ship, rocks in the harbour below,

stripped of my men.

My bones lie lazy like my ship’s boards.

My knees creak like their joints.

My flesh grows tired. My muscles sulk.


At dusk I curl on my mat on weeping grass

that grows no poem or song.

The rocks hold still with fortitude and hate.

I honour the sun, moon and stars

but they cannot ignite my perverse strength

that trails me in shadow.


Day slides its arms into the grey coat of night

I would I could wear it; and reach to own

people I met, places known. They are part of me.

I am part of them.


I come each day to the cliffs to see my ship.

The ocean haunts me, ever the bride on her

wedding night. I envy her passions. I long

to ride her again, feel her energies beneath me;

to ride her with my men, their chests burgeoning

with wild air to slay the enemy on their vessels,

to watch them drown in creaming seas.


My men wander idle on this island. They eat,

they whore. Their minds are soft like the clouds,

their blood flavourless.

How selfish my life. You sit with me, old woman

your flesh still ripe in desire for me;

you who weaved and waited twenty years,

pursued by mean suitors, your eyes then bluer

than sky, skin paler than the moon, lips redder

than berries.


But I long for that hot needle that once laced

stitches of lust through my groins, that spread

colours of power through my body.

I long for the determination I pasted in flat parchment

on my brow.


I long for that strength that oversang the tease

and temptations of the singing Sirens

floating half-naked through sky.

They pouted their lips, wiped my face with their hair.

They sullied my sails’ tendons

that wrapped me to my mast where my men

had bound me.


In memory I still flail those wanton arms and suck the air

for knowledge of my countrymen’s battles.

I shout with the ocean for the Gods to grant me wisdom,

and to captain once more my ship of conflict.


Caroline Glen © September 09

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