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"The Life That's Been Erased"

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Achilles

Swift-footed Achilles,
     Best of the Achaeans,
     son of Peleus and Thetis,
         strums his lyre
     on the rocky promontory
          overlooking the sea,
     beside the bricked-up tomb
          containing the golden urn
          containing the bones of a hero,
     and whispers 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
          only blankness,
          only emptiness,
          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 Telamonian Ajax the Great,
     of bow-legged Thersites,
all intent on returning Achilles
     to the battlefield,
     to the Land of the Living.

THE EPIC CYCLE:

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