12 Degrees & Skiving

what began as year-long challenge has become perpetual until further notice

Elissa

she beseeched, grovelled, tongued the air

clawed the gods he’d rather follow

and when she was done with hair threading her fingers

spent with the sound of her own mewing in her ears

she spoke with honeyed tongue

in eloquent yellow

teeth dipped in myrrh

words fragrant with an alternative to Rome

who, the seers said, would also inhale flame and song

 

the hangnail distance

shrank his pupils

her resolve

not his

 

had she not met worse treachery,

sank a widow’s wealth in sand

to the bottom of the Mediterranean?

she put up her hands

had her little sister collect

his things

their bed

paint flame to it

and the soot ghosted

sang the gift-blade

sank steel enough to make herself comfortable

 

she lit the gloaming

like an eye – if he saw,

if he glanced into his shield –

widened in surprise

that he
could mistake the end for daybreak.

 

Alyssa the Carthage Queen – also known as Elissa, and, more famously, Dido – had fallen in love with Aeneas, a Trojan hero who was the son of Aphrodite and the prince Anchises.

For six years after Troy’s fall, Aeneas wandered the seas, predestined to be the founder of the city of ancient Rome. A goddess-sent storm swept him to the shore of Carthage, where he encountered Elissa and continued a year-long love affair – and a marriage of sorts – with the queen.

Compelled by the gods once more to fulfill his destiny, he left Elissa and she, in her despair, had her sister Anna build a pyre under the pretend of burning all of Aeneas’ belongings, and their marriage bed. When the fire was ignited, the queen climbed onto the burning bed and fell on the sword she had given Aeneas when they’d first met.

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This entry was posted on August 27, 2013 by in Mythology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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