Ithaca

1 October 2015
Wet weather triggers a flush of fruit, those little vats of flavour. Let’s make some preserves he says you collect the pomegranates I’ll get the jars. I pare the skins, expose the arils, but he’s gone. I climb half an hour west, all pale stones and poetry, to look for him. Sails on the horizon. Collect the words.

My realm of hours is filled with dream houses calculating what is lost (the way that lies are madness), love keys are written in the river, a fireball brighter than the moon rages on the horizon, I keep the despair, that’s what manners are all about, nothing to be afraid of except their noise.

The wine shines tannic skin and sweet flesh, those lines written in the bath. Once I clean up the poem I see the edges, heavy on the iambic, sit down with the suitors like gangsters (don’t count the shields and silver spoils), there is beauty, but it is done, no longer pastoral, a quality to their lying changes me. Chaos is embraced, there is motif in the new peach and pomegranate jam. Eat your fill. Marry one (he is never coming back).

The suitors, smooth and deceitful, offer gifts of flowers, earrings, gold. I start another draft of my misery. A beggar emerges from the gloom, hunched furtive as misshapen as dobs of dog, dirty, filthy freezing, his identification a drop of blood, a whole new set of decisions, and once again I have to calculate what could be lost. Another quest, another stanza for the poem to read over dinner. Whoever can string that rigid bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe heads may have me.

He reveals himself in all his lyric glory, yet I won’t believe that he has returned—he’s a god in disguise—and test him to move the bed in the bridal chamber. But he knows one of its legs is a living olive tree.

There’s an overlap between past and present for clearing the mess, there’s commotion, there’s muchness. Drink wine. Open the jam. Get it over and done with, end the poem in a neat couplet.

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