The truth about the war
is that it had nothing to do with Helen
and everything to do with Greek Pride —
the pride that quietly took shape there
in solid rocks of Greece, a pride as cruel and salty
as any savored olive; a pride that bleat
like the sheep so that our ears constantly rung
with it, telling us we were Greeks,
we were the best there was.
We are the sailors of the sea!
We are the fishermen of The Mediterranean!
We cast our nets to lure the coolest flesh
up out of the mysterious depths of their dreaming beds
and into our strong, tanned arms where they lay —
the salt crusting their lips while our conch-shaped ears
hear the moaning of the ceaseless sea,
The Siren’s call to leave the warmth tasted
and sail again our eager crafts into unfamiliar waters.
What then could we do,
we Greek sailors, but take offense that a Trojan,
and not even the greatest one among them,
could land the supreme beauty of them all,
could sail with her to his homeland and hide
with her behind the city’s thick, silent walls?
If he had but bedded and left
nothing would have come of it —
a short stay, a wading in…then the receding,
the memory of her a secret to be shared
even as he left our shores and sailed away
to some other soft spread of ardent limbs.
He should not have taken her away,
not held up our pride
like the bones after a feast and shout
to the world, ‘These Greeks are but men,
no more than you or me,
and maybe, less even than that.’
No! We could only gather ourselves
like the waves we travel upon,
sharpen our spears
and cross the world to those walls —
camp there on that distant shore, its sand
bitter on our alien skin,
its wind screeching from a direction no wind
should ever shriek from, and prove ourselves again —
show the world and all the peoples within,
that we are the sailors, even the least among us,
the sailors of this world, we Greek men
who came forth from the wooden horse
and reclaimed our worth
in the spilled blood of each and every Trojan.