As Greek ships of sail launch to war, I think
Of Thisbe, days she has endured angst-filled
Tears, the not knowing, child growing within
Her maternal brine, nudged by tiny arms,
Restless feet, warf and woof of fates, arrows
Whistling, clang of sword and shield, as your
Anaxos, I pray to hold our son, my love and
Faith in thee, our proud Athenian city-state.
Kill or be killed, as gods decree, I, remember
Your face apple-blushed, skin ivory pale, at
Pool edge, fountains pouring forth, your foot
Splashing gently, enticing my plunges deep,
Struggles of flesh-quivering waters, how you
Accepted me, musical strains of united love,
Buoyant breasts amongst water-flowing robes,
In quaking moments your chalice was fulfilled.
Thrusting into warring jaws, poisoned breath,
Flesh-tearing teeth, sword-slewing might, we
Pushed forward, triremes burning off Delos
Island, masts cracking, sails tearing, enemies
Tumbling at our feet, fathers, sons, and bride-
Grooms slain, we more skilled at death than
They, proclaiming heroic days, across River Styx
Souls swam, smote bodies given briny graves.
Oils of healing balms, cool marble floors, temple
Columns secure, Thisbe breathes without fear,
She needs not black gowns nor mourning veils,
For we returned, sails wind-stretched, pennants
Flying high, our soldiers burned on shore-lined
Funeral pyres, life severed short, fires of death,
Flames of love, for I am ever captive, dear one,
My heart piercéd by arrowed eyes.
Come tend my wounds, Thisbe, sword cut, fire
Burned, we soldiers of Athens march forth, this
Victory ours, to love and be loved, favored by
Gods, on bended knee, I give myself to Jove and
Thee, flesh and bones intact after fearful fights,
Where such glories hail, songs of ocean choirs,
God-honoring sacrifices made, we seek peace
For our children’s children, their eternal days.
Inspired by “The Metamorphoses of Ovid” and antique postcards,
this poem contains imagery of brine, flame and fire, music and choirs,
relating to love, pregnancy, and death during Peloponnesian Wars
when Athens prevailed in battle and eventually fell.