Alive That Time

Anne Carson

In fact Odysseus would have been here long before now
but it seemed to his mind more profitable
to go to many lands acquiring stuff.
For Odysseus knows profit over and above mortal men
nor could anyone else alive rival him at this.

(Odyssey, 19.282-6)

It’s a panel on something improbable (Godard
and Homer?) in a fluorescent salon of some
city’s Palais des Congrès.
After
your overcrafted paper sinks to cool applause you watch the
back of Margaret
Drabble’s head
let loose hooves and Styx and stories of supper
to lope the room. Applause is warm.
Q&A is daft.
A Washington journalist asks and answers everything.
Outside in the hall you recognise Z
still in mid-sentence since 1986,
urging you to contact N – that noon, that heat, that crazy
weekend you flew with N to Miami to ID her father’s body
(Coral) midday (Gables) silence
wadded tight around the little bungalow you were both
afraid to enter –
now president of a posh college in the Midwest.
N’s favourite fact about her father, whenever he
won at the races he’d buy a diamond on the way home.
It feels alive, you go there.
Drabble dinner at a costly bistro in the old town makes
smilebones hurt.
You leave abruptly, can’t find your hat in the cloakroom,
lift a Borsalino cap, looks striking on you, glad for it all
the way back to hotel.
Cold wind, theft itself, there.