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The Lost Island of the Odyssey

Hear now this account
Call it not a tale
For tales are as ships
Truth a rocky shore
That would drive this ship
To the watery bottom
And falsehoods safe harbor
In which this ship can shelter

So call not my words a tale
They are much less
Yet ultimately much more

I start after the passing
Of the sirens’ isle
And before twin terrors
Scylla and Charybdis
Churning waves
Lashing rain
And keening winds
Drove the ship to and fro
Until they came upon
Yet another island

They beached the ship
And fled to a near cave
When the sun rose
The crew began the task
Of repairing their noble vessel
For the storm had beat upon it
With an unrelenting bludgeon

Odysseus bade his men
“Climb to the island heights
And fell the greatest tree.”

As the crew did so
Odysseus slipped wandered,
Lost in thoughts
Of home and hope
His path took him
To a cliff before the sea
The waves lapped at the base
Regular as the marching
Of soldiers gone to war
And every so often
There would come
A thunderous crashing
Battle between water and rock
Always the rock won,
Despite the waves’ tenacity…
Despite slow erosion…
Always the rock won
It must win

That was how
Odysseus thought it

Later, another man left the others
He was Euramaes
A good man, brave
And honest, but wise
To cheerless reality

He found Odysseus
At cliff’s edge
Eyes closed and face
Enraptured with listening

Euramaes cleared his throat
“My lord,” he said
“There is a thing I must ask of you”

Odysseus opened his eyes
And returned to the moment
“And what would you ask?”

“I confess,” said Euramaes
“My tale begins with a wrong
What I say I learned
By listening
One dewy morn
To words between you
And the nymph, Circe
From just beyond
A thin closed door
But what I heard
Was a much greater sin”

Odysseus’ blood turned
To icy steel

“You said,” continued Euramaes
“Blind Tiresias told you of the sirens
For that
You journeyed below
Yet with my own ears
I heard Circe warn
Of those perilous singers
So what
Do you with hold
From we, your loyal crew?”

Odysseus’ silence spurred words
“My lord, every man
Who sails beside you
Would give his life
That the others
Might return home
Does not such loyalty
To captain and comrade
Deserve knowledge
Of what dangers
Lie ahead?”

A long moment passed
Then Odysseus answered
“You are, of course, correct
And I regret
What I must do now.”
He drew his sword
“Though it is for the best.”

When Odysseus returned
To his working men
The tide had washed
Good Euramaes’ body
Beyond the reaches
Of we the living
And the rocks
Were stained red



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