Sick with fear by the blood hole,
I saw fighters dragging ’round
their gory combat gear, each one
craving recognition, sympathy,
so many of them still amazed,
going through the dark.

Here came one, an old friend, slowly,
whispering now in a voice I used to know,
coming to plead that I set up his oar
atop a cairn along the beach,
in memory of a simple man and the good work
he used to do in the waves.

Then my mother came, my mother
remote among the houseless dead, those ghosts
that hung about in silence by the blood.
I cried for her—the futility
of my embrace down where all was only
the negative image of what used to be.

Then the Rock Thrower came, Son of Télamon,
standing apart, bemired and bemused.
Even here, though I called to him by name,
Aîas would not speak to me and turned away
and went back deeper into Erebos.
Who would ever call him by his name again?

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 Number 6, on page 34
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