Let’s start with the stream, glittering
like tinsel around the virgin’s hips
as he wades out, holding a copper pitcher.
A hero waits on the bank, the hailstones
of his cries chop the empty sea.
Or maybe we should begin with the wings
clattering over the girl who crouches
between shafts of summer light
in her father’s barn. Or perhaps
with the ivory shoulder carved by the gods
and nested uneasily beneath the son’s
human clavicle. Or does it really begin
with the golden apple the uninvited guest spins
into the wedding party, sparkling
along the marble floor?
At least there is no question how it ends:
a burning city, an empty plain, sand
clotted with blood, the sea sucking
guts off the shore and the survivors—
if we use that word—straggling
into the camps, penned by guards,
and gleaning what comfort they can.
Elizabeth Hoover is a poet, critic, and journalist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her poetry has appeared in Plainsongs, Poetry Northwest, Massachusetts Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Folio, among others. She is currently working on a biography of Robert Hayden, and you can see more of her work at www.ehooverink.com