Telegony by Sonya Taaffe

Coming back to harbor, the ropes burned again
the white scars on his palms twice his grandson’s age,
the grey-eyed boy as eager on the lines as if the sea
creaming like faience and lime about the cliffs of Ithaka
had never thundered sailors over, wrecked their bones ashore,
sundered their shades kelp-tangled in his deeps; the imprint
of an oar on his shoulder like the sun’s settled hand,
so many promises left drying on beaches tarred with ships.
The boy’s questions flocking at him like storm-gulls,
shearing time from memory, the floating weed at the bow
the staved planks of a windstorm, the olives in their shadows
overgrowing the bay as touchless as a longed-for ghost,
another young likeness splashing ashore in his wake
like something he might once have dreamed in a bed full of sun,
his hair a blaze of foam, a reef-twisted stick in his hand,
stepping toward him easily out of the sea.

Sonya Taaffe has a confirmed addiction to myth, folklore, and dead languages. Poems and short stories of hers have won the Rhysling Award, been shortlisted for the SLF Fountain Award and the Dwarf Stars Award, and been reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, The Best of Not One of Us, Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2006, Best New Romantic Fantasy 2, and You Have Time for This: Contemporary American Short-Short Stories. A selection of her work can be found in Postcards from the Province of Hyphens and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books). She holds master’s degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale.

IMAGE: The Nautilus is my Boat, Warwick Goble, c1920.