Thomas J. Erickson

Nausicaa wasn’t supposed to play
with the servant girls but she would
sneak to the river to find us while
we washed the clothes.

I chased the ball into the woods and
from a pile of leaves a man appeared—
naked and dirty, his hair full of brine.

We all ran and hid except for Nausicaa.
The sun on her raven hair, her silver
arm band, the ruby rings on her lily hands.
The man kneeled and asked if she was a goddess.
We took him to the river so he could bathe.
Nausicaa had us lay out a clean cloak and tunic
and a golden flask of olive oil.

When he was done, we were surprised
he looked so handsome and strong. Nausicaa
told him to go to the palace, and to enter
the megaron and ask for her mother, the queen.

That night in the great hall, I filled
the cups with wine waiting for Nausicaa’s
call. When the bard sang of Troy,
the man wept and revealed that he was
Odysseus. His tales of the war wrapped
the room around him.

The man kept glancing at the blushing
Nausicaa who caught my eye and smiled.
I trembled as I filled her cup. My hand
brushing hers—smelling the hyacinths in her hair.

I prayed to Athena
to hold back the horses under the ocean
so that dawn would not come,
or at least so that night could linger.

“My Nausicaa” appeared in the 2012 edition of the Labletter.

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