Illiupersis Cup (Attributed to the Brygos Painter, 480BC)
Are the Atreidae of all mortal men
the only ones who love their wives? I think not.
Every sane decent fellow loves his own
and cares for her, as in my heart I loved
Briseis, though I won her by the spear.
(Homer. Iliad, 9.334–34)
In this madness
I am waiting,
watching the horizon ferry in soldiers for another gloomy
mass of war. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the dismantling of siege weapons,
the removal of hinges from vast gates of antinomy,
the troops laying down their swords and retreating
to leave this betrayed field empty except for two champions
hesitant to face each other across salient and gorge,
the weeping dead our cowardice has forged.
In my tent a single wasp
devours the galaxies of words
I never sent you, regurgitating them as pulp against the chambers
of my heart. Soon her nest will be complete,
and from her queen's throne she will send out hordes
of mute indulgent daughters who will beat out embers
of love beneath dry papyrus, which I am now forbidden to expiate.