The curse of the seer
is to believe other men to be fools.
They must know things,
even without Apollo's gifts of vision,
what cause has this plague?"
who could have so upset the Lord of Disease?"
who among us needs to repent to Apollo?"
I wander the camp,
weaving among the funeral pyres
widdershins by night,
deosil by day,
safely indoors at dusk and dawn.
I watch the birds,
counting doves and crows,
white and black,
black and black,
black and black and black and white,
which is altogether too many crows,
as any fool could see.
Those who follow me at a distance
couldn't miss the signs:
priestly footprints in the mud,
the anger-shreds of ribbon,
the rock where an enslaved daughter
and looks out at the sea
toward her island home.
Surely they see all this,
Or perhaps they do see
all too clearly.
They mean for Calchas to be the one
to say what all men know,
to confront the one responsible,
to bear his wrath,
for asking Agamemnon to accept the dishonor of blame.
what do you see?"
Now this is a question I can answer,
if I look into the sea-storm eyes
of the man who asks,
and if I couch my words with the skill of a seer:
"I see a man
who stands up for truth-tellers,
and protects them
who may dislike bad news.
I see a man
by the unvalorous deaths
of pale husks of men
on their death-pallets.
I see a man
who is willing to accept the consequences
of standing up to power.
I see Achilles,
who can stop this plague,
at a great cost to himself
and those he loves."
This is what I tell him
for nine days of sickness and death.
And on the tenth day,
Achilles makes a choice.
An author commentary for this installment is available to subscribers of the free Mythoversal Newsletter.