Home > Poetry > Odysseus with a Siren in the Corner of His Eye
Published: Tue Apr 15 1997
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Odysseus with a Siren in the Corner of His Eye

What are you afraid of? You’ll see her
gleaming from the cave, her stare,

stony, unreadable. By ear you navigate
your cruel way home, short of breath.

Walls along the crypts,
a chorus on the shore, spikes of glass

track the ridge. What is it in her words,
frozen grains opening melodically

like tiny grates. The nautilus.
Admit it: your grizzled eye

is pleased. You hoped for
salt flats, white beach, dead sleep,

the grotto where she’s not supposed to be.
You can’t have everything. The veins

in your arm swell, stoked
by wind, blue on the prow.

Do you know you’re angry?

See what's inside AGNI 45

Valerie Duff is the author of the collection To The New World (Salmon Poetry, 2010), shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize (Queen’s University, Belfast). Her poems have appeared in The Common, Solstice, AGNI, The Antioch Review, Verse, The Prague Revue, and elsewhere and her reviews in Harvard Review and The Boston Book Review. Former managing editor of AGNI and poetry editor of Salamander, she has received an individual artist grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was the 2015 Poetry Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston. (updated 4/2016)

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