After war they sat across from each other
over loaves of bread that lay on the table between
them like corpses still warm with a linger of life
like the baked bricks of a burnt city.
She had been a shadow in his mind,
in all their minds,
all who would invent themselves
in her rescue or punishment,
all who had found what she wanted
was not saving, but freedom, her
face and smile mocking them like
a flag fluttering on a distant rampart.
That smile they saw twisted on the lips
of their dead; that smile they came to see
on the face of their own death.
Now he looked at her behind the slight veil of smoke
rising from the bread and saw she was too small
to hold all of it and he saw his own image reflected
in her eyes, Odysseus who came in the Belly of the Horse,
burner of cities, Nightmare, Nemesis, a howl heard
through thick walls, sitting before warm bread in a tent,
after war, as she was sitting, she who had burnt for love and
he who had burnt for love, sitting with the burnt city between them.
She touched him, traced his features as if drawing them,
needing to shape him out of scream and shadow, out of
nightmare and into flesh and form.
And she smiled and her face broke from its legend.
And he broke like a cracked pillar.
He who had become a stone
barely warm with the linger of fire.