by Steve King
All rights reserved
What matter'd it now? She who made the sea move,
made it crawl with their ships; now she might well have been
just a fine polished marble, cold as that stone,
lugged off for booty, and stowed in the hold
of the man's mad desire.
Behind, the smoke rose so high o’er the plain;
and the cries of the dead rose too in the plumes,
and echoed the halls of the indifferent gods,
who heard all the groans as the gods always did:
so sated with god-love and smoke from their altars,
now giddy with griefs, and conjuring scores
to settle anon.
And the smoke and cries rose through the dark-browed clouds
long after the sails had dipped out of sight,
slipped over the edge of the smooth-seeming sea,
away from the cries and away from the smoke,
so heavy with swag, their blood-stained treasure;
and women they took, now sea-staring, weeping,
all huddled astern in the hard rocking ships.
It was all too quiet after the war years,
the blood men a-pace on the confining decks.
They were near out of heroes, near out of their time,
out of sight of the smoke, out of sight of the land
and the army of graves laying siege to charred walls.
Away from the dark-browed clouds did they sail,
clouds carrying smoke and the cries of the dead;
beetles leaving the plague, scuttling back to their earth,
back to where it began: the azure-lapped land,
a twitch in the loin of the rugged spear-man.