"Irene," William Adolphe-Bouguereau, 1897, WikiArt photo.
“Irene,” William Adolphe-Bouguereau, 1897, WikiArt photo.

Part 2: Vessel within Vessel

As Dolius described to Selva, language has
Roots and branches, dialects withering or
Blossoming, across Thracian plains, flowing
Seas. Sailing from Athens to Crete, Selva
Rode not as chain-bound slave but niece of
Aristocratic family, sea-green gown, gold arm
Bands instead of shackles, eyes burnished
By sun and ancient blood, Selva took to
Ancient papyri as Dolius with equal affinity.

Heavy with growing concern, Selva felt first
Quickening, tiny arms and legs, equal to
Ship’s movements, pregnancy concealed
From Dolius, shipwrecked girl ravaged by
Crew, father to her unknown. On quiet deck
Nights, Selva felt as slave girl with bastard
Child, not linguist or belovéd niece. In
Tearful doubt, she wondered if she should
Have drowned, her modesty still intact.

O! Selva, let not tears of doubt dim your eyes!
Reveal your heart to Dolius, voyage of self-
Realization, more demands yoked upon you
Than growing child, your joy and love. Gods
Foresee beyond narrow horizons, past peaks
Of time and destiny. Behold the solar skies,
Dialects ancient, poetry and prose, dwell
Within as stirring child, vessel of living
Language you are fated to become.

"Homer, Iliad, Papyrus, Hawara 24-28, Wikimedia photo.
“Homer, Iliad, Papyrus, Hawara 24-28, Wikimedia photo.

Flash from thunderous clouds, Selva touched
By Æthra, another quickening, divine thoughts
Mind-spoken upon cresting waves, visions of
Antiquity, vessel within vessel, child and wind-
Stretched sails, daunting and soul-releasing,
Glimpse of destiny upon foaming brine,
Arcadian and Cypriot tongues, Doric and
Ionic, papyri in urns tomb-buried, all this she
Confessed at feet of her mentor, Dolius.

Self-realization beyond her understanding, Selva
has second shipboard experience, first molested
as adolescent girl and now epiphany of fate,
language vessel within sailing vessel, both
blesséd and accursed. 

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