Tuesday, 9 January 2018

What song did the Siren sing?

( for Robert Graves)

Odysseus strapped to the mast

            his back braced against the wood
as if it
            bore the memory of his mother’s arms

must have heard secret words…lured then by the line
those words constructed to ultimately bind — else

only the music itself was the trap
and then what need the Siren
when any conch shell
or rightly strung instrument
might do?

So what did the words admit when admitted
did the words hint at the heel
that drew the arrow;
the heel itself drawn to that fate
by the wiles of the man now bound
to the mast — back further still
to when the heel
hid within the robes of a woman
and then what name did his cousin call
when the name we know could not be used?

to the man with rope that bound
and wax in the ears of his fellows
so that they could not hear
then steer towards the swallowing shallows?

And ever after,
asleep beside his re-claimed wife
or alone hunting the edges for stray wolf
or beside the hearth, retelling stories into the night —

did the words ring
then deep within
the psychic links
the chain that clinks;
dark-coated, magnificent Mare of night’s ghostly reminder
that called him back to that rocky shore

cluttered with the hearts
of broken men
with tears that litter their dreams
their eyes staring into the embers
their minds unwinding
back to the arms of the Eternal Singer —

was She ever mine to love?

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