after Matthew Dickman
There is no woman, no face to launch a thousand ships,
so there are no ships in this version, no boys
dressed as soldiers in armor too large, no bronze
shields forged by the fire of Hephaestus,
no spears or swords sharpened on a whetstone
of bone, no ocean of a vengeful god to cross,
no monsters, no beasts, only
men—a few fishermen on the wharf
drinking in ancient lawn chairs, no worries
but the money, mackerel, and mullet, women,
weather, and windsails: business as usual. No gods
in this version but the ones in their favor,
the Delphic lottery forever a chorus of yes.
And as for the kingdom, no matter, and
no country beyond the sea, no land but this one,
in this version where the homes sit content
on well-kept lawns, where the horses know no sharpness
or scatterings of war. In this version the heroes return
home at the end of the day and the beds sigh
with their weight and war is a word unknown,
unspoken, atticked in the mind.
In this version, then, consider the horse: not wooden
but made of hair and flesh and muscle, racing
like sunlight through a country all his own
and in his mouth not an army of men
but a town, no, a city, of wood and stone and thatch,
where the fires stay lit through the night
but where nothing ever burns.
Maya Phillips, “Revision” from Erou. Copyright © 2019 by Maya Phillips. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books, fourwaybooks.com. All rights reserved.