by Len Krisak (March 2016)
How was I to know?
There was no way to tell
That when we came to Philomel
Her tears would well up so.
The thought of Itys as so many shish kebobs,
And served up to his father in a stew,
Racked her with convulsive sobs
That sent her bolting for the door
And down the hall. Tereu, Tereu,
I thought, with nine books more
To get through.
I called a break, of course,
As twenty pairs of eyes besides my own
Followed the weeping mother in
Her dash to find a place where Ovid’s sin
Might lose some smidgen of its force.
She blamed me, too (I should have known
That myths like that were pure abominations
That no loving mom should be subjected to).
Ten minutes later, we were at our stations,
Ready for the rape and incest coming next.
“All right,” I said. “Remember—this is just a text.”
Len Krisak has published in The London Magazine, The Oxonian Review, PN Review, Standpoint, Agni, The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson Review, The Dark Horse, Agenda, The Hopkins Review, Commonweal, Literary Imagination, The Oxford Book of Poems on Classical Mythology, and others. His latest book is Virgil’s Eclogues, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. Forthcoming: The Carmina of Catullus, Carcanet Press, 2015, Afterimage, Measure Press, 2014, Rilke: New Poems, Boydell & Brewer, 2015 and Ovid: The Amores and The Ars Amatoria, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
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