In Ithaca there is a house that hyenas walk through,
licking the bones of things slain by a prouder predator.
You cannot leave a life like a painting under linen,
in a locked room. There are men
tearing apart the columns you built,
shuddering their way into your wife’s sheets.
Men slaughtering your pigs,
and emptying barrels of wine meant to celebrate your return home.
Odysseus, the bed you wanted to die in
has been eaten away by termites.
There are no scavengers here.
Just flat land and fruit trees
whose branches brush the ground.
Have you ever seen a persimmon, Odysseus?
Their insides taste like a sunrise
over an uncomplicated horizon line.
They do not put up any fight.
Odysseus, you are the type to eat pomegranates,
fruit that is mostly rind and pip and spike.
There are berries here you do not even need to wash.
They fall off the bush into your hands.
Odysseus, there is a land here you could build a life on.
Ithaca is three shipwrecks away
and there is nothing waiting for you there.
Your wife is a peach pip,
every pockmark sucked clean of meat
by the vultures we do not have here.
She does not remember to grieve for you.
Odysseus, forget your ship.
Forget your mountains and the son
who has forgotten the heavy mantle of your legacy,
knows only your name,
rotting and bitter on his tongue.
Odysseus, we will rip you to pieces, but after,
we will build a mansion to your memory.
We will grieve so loudly,
you will hear it from your throne
in the Underworld.
Aviva Rabin-Court, Age 15, Grade 10, Hunter College High School, Silver Key