Advancing and ebbing in the tide,
to taunt me: the empty, battered skiff
those two thugs rowed my god-tormented
husband away in, has drifted back to shore.
Odysseus knew their plans when he stepped
on board for his banishment, and I feared
I’d never see him again, not that our reunion
had been joyous: him still fighting the war
and the monsters he so shuddered to recall,
he was never without his wine sack,
too addled be a husband to me, a father
to ever more resentful Telemachus:
Odysseus showing him none of the affection
our son expected, the man returning to Ithaca
a foaming stranger with Odysseus’ aged face.
When I tried to accompany him into banishment
and probable death at the hands of these harbor rats,
he and my son restrained me, and in truth,
I didn’t fight too hard, so weary of enduring
my husband’s endless rages and tears.
Now, I pace the strand, stare at the ruined craft,
and scan the sea, sometimes see a swimmer
breasting the waves, but only a dolphin.
And just as likely one of those sea-scum-murderers
will stagger ashore. I’ll slash his throat
and leave him for the crabs, my husband,
once great Odysseus, wherever he is, smiling.
Often, I wonder why I don’t do the same
to my coward-son who conspired with those vermin,
but his face is too like his father’s, before Odysseus
sailed for Troy, and swore he’d be home
by the time of the fall harvest.