As the god-tormented old man was rowed away,
my husband spat, “Good riddance!” Though to me,
Odysseus was never a frightful Charybdis,
but ever courteous, while my husband demanded
more than the Wanderer could ever give him
in the way of a father’s love: his years away
from Ithaca shattered the bond that should’ve
bound them like caressing tree limbs.

As for our tiny Anticles, Telemachus feared
Odysseus would fly into one of his rages and smash
my darling against a palace wall, as I’ve no doubt
he did to Trojan babies he and the other warriors
tore from wailing mothers—what all mothers fear
in our harsh world of raid or be raided.
But to my son, he was the smiling grandpapa,
bouncing our boy to sleep when no one else could.

Still, Odysseus was never without a wine sack:
the guilt of the men he’d slain made him try
to drown in liquid oblivion, plus his grief
for his shipmates, all dead at Ilium or on the sea:
his nightly howls of anguish startling the palace awake.

But now Odysseus has been taken into exile
by my husband’s assassins, no intention
of delivering him to an island sanctuary.
They’ll kill and dump him out of sight of land,
my husband too squeamish of the Furies’ retribution
to do the filthy deed himself, though it might
take more than two wine-soaked thugs to send
Odysseus down to Hades’ dark and silent halls.

How I wish I’d known him in his prime