In Priam's Great Hall,
where joy had been lacking,
timpanists and kitharodes
call the assembly to dance.
The tables hold delicacies,
meats and mead,
breads and wine,
as if in celebration
of a victory already won.
At Priam's table,
the war council surrounds the king
with Penthesileia at Priam's right hand
as if she always had been there
in the chair where Hector lately sat.
Hospitality is Priam's main course.
Discussions remain casual and pleasant.
the hard business is held for dessert.
Priam talks of horses,
a safe topic
as long as one doesn't mention
the long-lost horses of Laomedon.
do not saddle horses to ride.
like the Achaeans,
Priam's eyes sparkle,
hand gestures animate his words,
and Penthesileia feels at ease
knowing that Trojans love their horses
as much as the Amazons do.
about breaking in a wild stallion
on the steppes of Scythia,
wipes at his eyes.
Aeneas whispers to the confused Amazon,
"His son, Hector, trained wild horses."
and turns the conversation aside,
to styles of reins and bits,
and all is well again.
Priam asks more about the use of saddles,
and how ridden horses handle in sand,
and how much gear can be stored in saddlebags,
and whether the horse is a good companion
during a hunt,
feels her throat tighten,
feels her fingers clench themselves,
hears the screams of the monsters
from outside the palace,
from outside the city walls.
"My sister loved to hunt,"
Priam notes her discomfort
and there is no more talk of horses
at least for now.