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5. "Once"

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"No man touches her!"

"Not even the Atreides would dare,"
     Podarces assures me,
          with a glare at pale Thersites
               who grins a pale smile,
               and mutters,
          "Not after the last time."

     ill-fated Iphigenia,
     was led to believe
     I was her intended,
          before ruthless Agamemnon 
          led that poor girl to slaughter
          to appease the goddess.
     I turned down
     an offer from Agamemnon,
          overlord of the host,
     to wed his choice of Argive princesses
     upon a successful return to the lands of Hellas.

     I pledged myself to Deidamia,
          who still waits for me
          and remains loyal to me
          on the island of Skyros
          with our son.

More than once,
     Patroclus urged me
     to take Briseis as my wife,
          after the war,
     back when life beyond the war
     was something we could still contemplate.
But now?

I shake my head.

I wish I still had your counsel, Patroclus.
          About Briseis.
     What fate would you wish for her?
She cared for you, 
          and would be here with you,
               if I would let her come,
     but not yet!
My grief is too great to share.
     For now, I must have you for myself.

"No man touches her,"
     I repeat,
        and remain,
   rooted in place,
plucking the lyre.


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A classic tale of war, betrayal, death, grief, and recovery.

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