2. "The Life That's Been Erased"

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Centering Swift-Footed Achilles,
Warrior Prince of Phthia:

They call me swift-footed,
     demonstrably true.
The best of that Achaeans?
     so accused,
     I would never argue.
But I can never again be at my best
     without you.

On this rocky promontory
          overlooking the sea,
     beside the bricked-up tomb
          containing a golden urn
          containing the bones of a hero,
I stand and strum my lyre,
     and whisper a song:

"What now?

My anger is gone, sweet Patroclus,
     leaving behind
          a hole
          a gap
          a chasm.

Why, Patroclus, why
     do I now feel
          a loss that echoes down the ages,
               nothing but void
               where my life
               once continued.

Why so quiet, Patroclus?
     Death took your voice,
          but surely left
          some restless piece of spirit,
          the fading note of a lyre string
               that sounds,
          long after being plucked.

Your shade might speak to me again
     here in this place,
     if I strum long enough,
          and yet,
     I hear nothing.

I want to feel again, Patroclus.
     I want to know
          some small part
          of the life that's been erased."

The last string is plucked,
     and fades.

And then, an embassy arrives
     of wily Odysseus, 
     of dutiful Podarces,
     of Big Ajax,
     of bow-legged Thersites.

These are the Rest of the Achaeans,
  intent on returning me
     to the encampment,
     to the battlefield,
          to Hades's halls and back
               to the land of the living,
     away from the ghost of you.


* The Kypria
* The Iliad
* The Posthomerica
* Tales of Nostos
* The Odyssey
* The Telegony
* The Aeneid
  Rage is the first book of the Iliad. Amazons is the first book of the Posthomerica.

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