Iphigenia Leaving Tauris

In the wind I lose the tumble of bone-white rocks
down the hillside in summer, a new lad missing
his footing or a goat scrabbling for parched grass.
 
Instead I linger over receding mountains
that rush high and fast out of the water, the light
sweeping up from dark waves. My brother’s glowing face.
 
Over the heavy breath of men grinding oars comes
the slap of wet on wood, like the head of a Greek
that once slipped from my hands in the temple’s torchlight.
 
I’d searched his face for Mycenae’s wild hills, his prayers
for a warrior’s commands. But he was no king
to break on my altar at last. Just an old man.
 
What I remember of my father: curls, oil-dark;
rough linen; a loose sandal he gave me to mend.
His hand was a blade slicing the air in summons.
 
I too have held the knife. Before gods, we tremble
like sails, must stand like the masts of ships. My father
shed no tears. There are enough in this wine-dark sea.

 

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