There were good Cyclopes, and had this particular
Cyclops not turned mean after decades
of living alone in the same dairy cave,
possessing unnatural strength and memory
but very little wit, as he must have been aware,
and had he been treated more gently by his father
who sat inside Mt. Etna and made it smoke,
had he tended his lambs, so careful with the newborns,
and waited for his soft cheese to ripen and sold it
to neighboring giants with a taste for feta
or pecorino, well that is not a bad life.
No need to seek revenge or go down, yelling, in history.
No hero, no Odysseus, comes into this story,
here’s just Polyphemus himself with his red beard and one eye—
no one comes. He’s up early, milking his ewes,
beginning with the anxious ones, singing them calm. His song
always the same:
I know a field of blue clover,
and would you sail north with me, shipmaker’s daughter?
Carve your mast, carve your steering oar,
cover and seal your vessel with tar.


Rachel Willems is an American poet and fiction writer. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts
with her husband and young son.

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