distant cassandra, sailing to her grave
The men sing the liveliest songs they know as they leave
burning Troy and all its anguished dead;
Agamemnon drinks deeply,
laughs the way a dying warrior does when he thinks he’s won.
Alone, Cassandra watches the waves,
wrists bound as she sits with the other captured women
who wail for what is lost, what little remains.
Alone, Cassandra’s eyes are dry beneath the weight of mourning;
She’s seen this all before.
The war is done and the victors sail home with their spoils.
Cassandra sees the rot in their ribs, the blood soon to be spilled;
vengeful wives and desperate widows lash out in the same way
and all Cassandra has ever seen in people are their graves.
“Sing with me,” Agamenon orders, wine on his breath,
warm blood ready to be spilled from his veins.
“There is nothing to mourn,” he says as though Cassandra hasn’t been
mourning her whole life, in her high tower waiting for the end.
You’ll be dead before you see the dawn in your homeland;
Cassandra’s prophecies are always true, but never believed.
She stays silent, still, a daughter without a father;
Iphegenia will rest once she gets her share of their hearts.
The men keep singing as they row,
sharing drinks between themselves in celebration.
Praise to the gods leaves their lips as easily as souls leave their bodies;
Cassandra sees their lives play out before her eyes
And patiently waits as they sail to her death.