8. "Men Are Such Fools"

281 0 0

Centering Calchas,
Seer to Agamemnon:

The curse of the seer
     is to believe other men to be fools.

     They must know things,
even without Apollo's gifts of vision,
          yet still,
     they ask:

"Calchas,
     what cause has this plague?"

"Calchas,
     who could have so upset the Lord of Disease?"

"Calchas,
     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
                    sits
          and looks out at the sea
     toward her island home.

Surely they see all this,
     and still,
          they ask,

     "Why?"

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,
          and certainly,
               to die
     for asking Agamemnon to accept the dishonor of blame.

"Calchas,
     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
     from those
          who may dislike bad news.
I see a man
     anguished
          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,
               but only
     at a great cost to himself
          and those he loves."

This is what I tell him
          each day
     for nine days of sickness and death.

     And on the tenth day,
Achilles makes a choice.

Author Commentary:

An author commentary for this installment is available to subscribers of the free Mythoversal Newsletter.

EPIC CYCLE ROADMAP:

* 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.
Please Login in order to comment!