The Trojan Women and
Other Poems


The Trojan Women

We wore bright necklaces. We wore the dazzle
                          of a city. We were bodies draped in luxury,

the days ahead barely visible behind bolts of silk
                                       that shimmered, gray to darker gray,


held this way, that way in the light.
             Nothing was approaching from across the sea.


No thousand ships on the water and the water
                          barely rippling. We imagined the future


was a length of linen, the color of early morning,
                                       or the yellow of uninterrupted sand.


And if a daughter saw what was coming,
             her voice was birdsong we couldn’t understand.


Of course, there was bad weather, a god
                          battering the walls with his furious rain.


There was sickness too—the madder-red
                          of some fevers, or the time honey went


mud-brown in the comb, the bees found dead.
                          But our beds were only a place of sleep,


not yet a funeral couch scented with saffron oil.
                                    We were, ourselves, not yet divided.


Our necks were ringed with gold for years,
                                    and why should we have questioned


how time would unroll in front of us, what snags
                             in the weaving, what quick unraveling.


Hyacinthus

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