Elizabeth Hoover

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