Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Helen Considers Leaving Troy

after a bottle of chianti
              Don’t mistake me, I’ve pondered this before.
              But tonight I’m serious.
              One bottle and the end is certain.
              Tomorrow: Lawyer. Boxes. Road map. More wine.

while walking the dog
              Paris won’t even notice.
              I’ll feed the pup, pack a quick bag,
              take out the trash, and slip away into the night.
              Home to Sparta. Or Santa Monica.
              An island off the southernmost tip of Peru.
              Disappear. Like fog from a mirror.

while paying the bills
              Guess I’ll have to give up that whole new career plan.
              Academic dreams. House-and-yard dreams.
              Stay on like this a few more years. Or forever.
              Face the bottomless nights in solitude.
              Wither. Drink. Write poems about dead ends.
              Drink more. Work. Pay rent.
              End.

when Paris comes home drunk
              Call Clytemnestra. Make a plan.
              Move a few things into Clym’s spare room,
              storage for the rest. Set up arbitration.
              File what needs to be filed.
              Head to Athens. Or back to Crown Heights.
              Maybe find a roommate in Fort Greene.
              All I know is out out out.
              Sure, I can blame the past or the scotch
              or my own smartmouth or my worst rage,
              but blame is a word. I need a weapon.

when Menelaus writes a letter
              As if.

from the ocean floor
              Bathtub. Ocean. Whichever. All this water.
              Yes, Paris pulled me from the ruby tub.
              Menelaus fed me to the river a year before that.
              Metaphorical, and not at all.
              O, a girl and her water. Such romance.
              Gaudy. And gauche.
              How do I leave what cared enough to keep me?
              What of those goddamn ships?
              That ridiculous horse? All those men?
              Now, wretched little me. All this dizzy sadness.
              How many kings to tame one woman? Silence her?
              How many to put her under?

Credit


Copyright © 2019 by Jeanann Verlee. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“This poem muddles persona with lived experience. It is not unlike a contrapuntal: two histories working together to reimagine autonomy where once it did not seem to exist.”
—Jeanann Verlee

Author


Jeanann Verlee

Jeanann Verlee is the author of three books, including prey (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) and Racing Hummingbirds (Write Bloody Publishing, 2010).

Date Published: 2019-02-26

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/helen-considers-leaving-troy