I now wish I’d seen myself somewhere else the first time
but the first time it was in the men.
I’d been told not to be cute,
and the men were not cute. They glistened
with armorshine dazzling foes. That
which turns flies into butterflies. Terrible instruments;
That was what I wanted. To possess or be possessed
with awful armor, or by taking my blood
and adding a drop of some Other—the kind that
makes smoke swirls in your hair, that turns your
jaw forward. Blinding as snowlight, like fixing a headlight.
The armor that could make one loved.
It is hard to know better when you still puzzle out pretty words
of metal in water;
The second time I was older. Eventually you learn
that love is not a garment. But for all the war,
for the bigger armies, love then must be a territorial battle.
That snowshine could be culled from the white-armed side
by art of attrition. I could starve out the cascades of apologies;
I could gain ground against my worse self.
In these dreams it does not matter if you are right or wrong,
if it is healing or harm to beat yourself to submission
or to win the war, upend the land—
you know the fight
and that is all there is of you,
a rage with implacable origin, or a war
with opaque chain of cause.
I often want to have seen the women first—they only came third;
Movies are not often made of captives.
But they did not get many words. They would wake up
every morning, wishing that everyone could forget
who they were yesterday.
It is a pain, for the women,
that every second is in fact eight billion seconds passing—
a year is a year, or eight billion years, and one is short
and one is long
but never is a year anything in between.
And this is the third way I thought I
found myself in Troy.
Now is fourth. I often wish I’d seen the healing before the wound;
I think rivers over anything are the most used to these cycles. I wonder
how often the same river sees the same water; how often it recognizes the rain.
I wonder if the river under Troy still carves, if it goes by the same name,
if the city over it is gone—or does the river run with different water
and is that water bluer, do the fish taste less blood
or are they still coated in ferrous sheen, does that river keep a memory
of the feet planted upon it, of the fights it got itself into,
or did it wake up one day under ruins and decide that
tomorrow it would be a different river—
and the world it paints would be a different world?