Hold, memory, a vision out of Greece:
The west wind breathes a ripening breath
As each pear, pendant and golden, brushes
Another, where four tilled acres glisten
Winter and summer: fig, olive, currant,
And the heavy succulent pomegranate
—Sunstruck for the plucker’s hand.
All this a stranger sees, palm on lintel,
Sees the stately women of the royal rooms
Murmuring over linen, looms humming;
Sees boys, on pedestals, shine torches
Which fire the eyes of Alkinöos’s hounds.
So much of heroism wondrously found
(Like a glinting pebble in a child’s hand,
Borne upward to imagination’s shallows),
As I’d gaze at snow blanketing West End,
Hearing the story my father burnished
Over a month of nights, so that the voyage
Of the telling faded into the hours lived
Beside that voice—whiskey rough—again
Taking up the exile’s lament: hekatomb,
Distaff, honeyed wine . . . Some bleary god
Come down from heaven’s height, as snow
Descends on elms and, beyond our window,
Odysseus, beggared and unknown, moves
Toward the great bow of gnarled revenge.
Father, I stand beside you now, your right arm!
Pitch pine torches reveal a stranger’s son
Holding still-thrumming wood in his hand.