Odysseus

Mythical sirens seducing sailors. In Homer's Odyssey.  Credit. David Parker/Science Photo Library

Bereft on the sand

he pleads for the tide to return

soothe his wounds, take him away

he calls to the moon

but the sea steals his words.

Bared to the wind, face scored by storms

his hair lifts and strays like listless Sargassum

the sea hisses retreat.

His hands, barnacled, once caressed those lithe-limbed maids

singing in the surge and the caverns.

But the waves rose up into mighty walls, and he

caught between crest, current and squalls

and dazzling faces of sirens rising, with no fear of falling

they surfed the sharp edge of the swell

and dragged him down.

In their caves they fought over him,

scarred him with scales then swam away.

He’d believed in mermaids,

believed in their songs of carousing love,

but they’d shouted, demanded,

tricked him, bewitched him

left him stranded struck by the moon

yet still he yearns for them

pleads for the tide to take him back in.

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