achilles in love

September 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

“achilles in love”

—Stephen Dunn

There was no getting to his weakness.
In public, even in summer, he wore
big boots, specially made for him,
a band of steel reinforcing each heel.
At home, when he bathed or slept,
he kept a pistol within reach, loaded.
And because to be invulnerable
is to be alone, he was alone even when
he was with you. You could sense it
in the rigidity of his carriage, as if under
his fine-fitting suits were layers of armor.
Yet everyone loved to see him in action:
While his enemies were thinking of small
advantages, he only thought end game.

Then she came along, who seemed to be all
women fused into one, cheekbones and breasts
evidence that evolution doesn’t care
about fairness, and a mind so good, well,
it was like his. You could see his body soften,
and days later, when finally they were naked,
she instinctively knew what to do-
as smart men do with a mastectomy’s scar-
kiss his heel before kissing
what he considered to be his power,
and with a tenderness that made him tremble.

And so Achilles began to live differently.
Both friends and enemies were astounded
by his willingness to listen, and hesitate
before responding. Even in victory he’d
walk away without angering a single god.
He wore sandals now because she liked him in sandals.
He never felt so exposed, or so open to the world.
You could see in his face something resembling terror,
but in fact it was love, for which he would die.





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