So, for a class project I had to rewrite The Odyssey. My interpretation’s a second-person stream of consciousness character study of Odysseus. There’s also an oil pastel drawing I made to go with it.
You never came back, and that meant something different to everyone. To Penelope, it meant she’d wait. After all, you built your marriage bed into the tree that composed your home. For the other men, it meant the opposite; they’d make their move and replace you. But then there was your son, and no, there’s no time to think of that. Right now you’re your father’s son, you’re alone because the damned fools (and they were damned in piety) angered the Sun.
Caught between Scylla and Charybdis, they died. They died and you didn’t, so you did, at least a little, right? Because you aren’t a god. You aren’t a god. You aren’t a god, and you know this. You know this because there are gods and there are men, and ne’er shall the two cross.
Except when they do, and how come that’s not you?
(You aren’t a god. You know this.)
You aren’t one of those fabled demi-gods, those heroes of old, the ones who worked with the gods and conquered the demons that plague Earth.
You’ve faced demons, and you know this. You’ve faced demons and the gods have meddled in your affairs and nothing is as it seems. There’s no control and you just want to go home, but where is home?
(Home is tainted with the sweet taste of another, her peals of laughter dance across your tastebuds, setting fire to the back of your eyes)
Gods, you miss home. You miss home, you miss home and something’s broken right now because you’re stuck (you miss home) in place. The fruit on your tongue sparks and one fire over takes the others and all you see is Penelope and your tree. Together, you could’ve been gods, and damn you for falling back into old ways of thinking, but you could’ve been gods with how artfully you created.
A bed, a son, a kingdom – you loved her more than you loved to love, and no matter your failings as a man, you’ve never had a lack of love to go around.
You aren’t a god. You know this and the fire dies out, forgotten, and the dark coals in its place turn to stare back at you, and you see that there’s nothing good in staying in one place right now. There’s something wrong (you miss home) and everything’s futile (you miss home, you’ve never missed it so badly, what’s happening to you) and
You left the fruit behind, and here you are alone in presence and spirit. Together, they’re Nobody, and Nobody’s a thief. Nobody’s talked about and nobody knows Nobody but you. Perhaps this is thinking too highly of yourself, you stupid man, but as Nobody, you’d prefer to think that nobody else is Nobody.
So you robbed him of his sight, leaving him ignorant forever more.
(You imagine your son [and not her, because as much as it hurts, you’ve forgotten her] asking who did it, who blinded the Cyclops, and you’d smile and say Nobody)
(You miss home)
(Home didn’t stink of goat’s milk and blood)
(Except when it did)
You don’t think of your father at all. You only think of now and soon, but anything that was hurts too much, it hurts too much, it hurts so much you’re tick-tick-ticking away.
When you find the winds, you want to sing. You can taste freedom. Fly away home on the hot breath of the cardinal winds, cold breezes into hot, hot heat and promises in the air.
But it’s green that destroys you and opens Pandora’s Box for gold (and you don’t think it’s too soon to make such a comparison, but you’ve been wrong before, are wrong, and you are not a god)
(Except when you are)
You’ve never been hated before.
No wonder the victims strike back.
No wonder people eat people and you barely blink at more death.
You’ve got to keep moving forward (for her, because you remember her. Her fire wins. It’s empowered by your son, your best creation. It’s fueled by his winds, and the sticky slobber of the dog and the way the leaves fell round you that one night, and the way you’ve always fought for something, and here we go again)
Then you stray again, because you’re actually horrible and nothing makes sense, and you stu-stu-stutter into the same bad habits, and this time you have no one but yourself to blame, you sick man.
You’re sick because you were happy away from home once, and you told yourself you wouldn’t let that happen again, and here you are alone because everyone’s against you because they just want to go home.
Where is home?
(I love you. I’ll miss you. Come home soon, okay?)
Nobody’s punished for your transgressions. Or is it the other way around?
(Deep down, you know the two are one and the same, which is just not fair, because you’re the hero. You’re the hero and that means you’re the good guy.)
Polyphemus was the hero to Somebody, Nobody. So what does that make you?
Perspective is a god’s tool, not a man’s. A hero only sees as far as the Gods will it. A man with perspective sees more than he should, and he develops pride. A dangerous game, it leaves you ticking away, building yourself up, forgetting you’re fallible.
Then the Gods strike you down and you’re not a god. You’re not a God, you know this.
Once upon a time, you didn’t repeat yourself. You just continued on, fighting with a smile, because life was good.
You blink and suddenly you’re bidding adieu and you’re out on the streets of Ithaca disguised. You’re just a man, and no one recognizes you.
(Except the dog)
The anonymity is new.
(The dog remembers you. It waited. It waited. You’re an eagle and the dog waited, which means there’s a beautiful swan waiting in the tree. Someone you left behind.)
You lie, at first, not wanting to reveal yourself so soon, but then Eumaeus remembers you and tells you everything.
(There are geese everywhere, closing in on the swan. You think he has them wrapped under her spell, just like you, but you can’t be sure. You just want to)
(I see blood. You’re not a God, but there’s so much blood. I will help you. I will always. The swan waited. You are the eagle not the goose.)
You are not a God. You understand this as you murder Penelope’s suitors.
You are the eagle, they are the geese. She is the swan. You are the king. The arrow flies from between your fingertips, through their darkest desires, into Nobody’s bullseye.
Don’t forget, Odysseus. You are not a God. Don’t you dare forget.