"Just so [the epic goes] our hero wonders:
will his future be tall? "
Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series
Need to Know
12: The Necessary Ear
11: The Necessary Eye
Issue 10: Out on a Limb
Issue 9: The Missing Body
Issue 8: The Lily
Issue 7: Passages
Issue 6: No More Tears
Father as Odysseus
This is a story I heard in the wild: a mother giraffe
measures her calf against the ruler of her mind.
Just so [the epic goes] our hero wonders:
will his future be tall? When he sets off
it is a cloudy day late in summer, and all three sails
are flying on the mast. He is looking for a longer story.
The giraffe, too small to suckle, put out of misery
with a mother's swift kick. Later,
I discovered the story was a lie.
The poem will get bigger,
It will take in the story of the hare
we left twitching beside a road
deep in the woods, so it could not come back.
It will pick up where we left it
and follow our hero across the seas. He has left
his wife and his family.
For something less than war: the story of
a man and his boat, another woman [optional],
and a natural death upon the waters. In the meantime,
will he know what has become of the earth?
Where everyone walks with heads turned to the sky?
If only he would stop on some kind island,
tell his story for food, like so:
When I went to the wars there were no wars,
when I fell in love it was with a dark queen.
We had a family, you know how it goes
with love, and went to work in the morning.
That's the story. And now I am here, and if my son
comes looking, tell him I've sailed on.
Just so the future sputters in the dark,
thirsty for flesh and mother's milk, bludgeoned
by her heel. But these animal comparisons detract
from our humanity. I knew a woman
who killed her child-to guard him
against what hunger I do not know.