The ancient epics do not overlap.
Hector dies. Achilles is a ghost.
The wooden horse is backstory at most,
Or hasn’t happened yet. A witch’s trap
Turns men to swine. A living river burns.
A dog lies pining on a heap of dung.
A woman waits, and is no longer young.
A ransom’s paid. A wanderer returns.
So great trees grow, they tell us, putting down
A map of roots that chart the underworld
As deep as topmost leaves reach up, unfurled
Into the blue sublime, and side by side,
Though deep and tall, they only grow so wide,
And hold aloof, not touching at the crown.
They hold aloof, not touching at the crown.
Walking between their columns, look above
To see how sky’s a river delta of
Blue leaking through, as puzzled light sifts down.
How do they know—how do they sense the touch?
We call it shyness. Is it courtesy,
An antique courtliness of tree to tree,
That somehow knows the border of too much?
When Priam in his laden wagon came
Under the veil of night to meet his foe,
And buy the body of his son, laid low,
Achilles drew back from his savage brink
To courtesy, and said, “We are the same:
Though princes, we are mortals. Eat. Drink.”