Tell me what you want, he said,
it was a lovely line, the call of a Siren.
I packed thin stockings, a dress,
pretty underwear.
It didn’t matter that like Odysseus
I would find unexpected weather,
that it was suddenly cold and the clothes with me
were with me because we had met
in warmer weather.

I paid attention, stayed alert,
— it kept Odysseus alive
being careful of his whereabouts.
I thank my hosts,
their generosity is never expected.
I’m used to being a guest,
treated as if my tastes might differ.
But when I say what I want (finally at ease)
my preferences are mistaken
for something not offered.

My stockings and underwear were useful.
So were the gloves and hat I brought,
but he is unfamiliar, Tell me what you want
is still a beautiful line; he used it perfectly,
my clothes were irrelevant.