Odysseus stands before another window,
his hands hold the weathered frame, framing
himself, a forgotten Samson about to suffer
the collapse of the temple. He breathes in,
attempts to catch a salt-laden breeze;
perhaps that might blow away the regret
that lingers like a leech draining him dry.
He has dreamed again of that day after the horse
when he stood silent and watched
the slaughter of Polyxena and Astyanax,
children both, their small bodies no more than limp flags
waved by joyous warriors to signal the end the war.
The girl had her swan-like throat slit,
her bright blood flung upon the tomb of Achilles —
death to her, profanity to him,
greatest hero and never one who desired
an innocent’s blood to be shed for any reason.
The boy thrown from the highest Trojan wall
(like hay to the hungry horse’s stable).
While the drunken Greeks cheered and pointed
the boy fell, swift to death yet that fall eternal
in Odysseus’ mind: The Greeks cupped their ears
to catch the sound of his breathing body
colliding with the stones below…they savored
the crunch of his small death.
To the city below he whispers—How can I
return to Penelope and to my son Telemachus
when those deaths permanently stain my flesh?