by Daniel Bosch
A section of The Times, a shallow tub,
A chamois cloth, a sickle slip of pumice,
Green oil from the least expensive jug,
A dry wreath’s worth of eucalyptus,
Scented lotion samples torn from Vogue, three curled
Bones of soap—Penelope’s foot kit
Was ample. And hadn’t she called out “Girls?
Can one of you come wipe the dogshit
From the old man’s feet?” So Eurycleia
Laid newsprint down, and poured hot water,
And took each foot in hand, and scrubbed a layer
Of Ithaca away in each sweet lather.
She found his soles not old, but hardened
By much travel (none of it Business Class).
Her fingers wandered: had this one manned
An oar or lanyard smudged with Trojan ash?
As one who wrote a single villanelle
Thirty years before, and published it online,
Googles herself, and, blushing, tells
Herself she’ll click on it one last time,
Then cursor-caresses every syllable
To see if her lines still scan,
So Eurycleia scrolled each surgical
Staple’s faint spondee, and dried, by hand,
Each knotted strand of adolescent diction—
Familiar but passé and difficult to parse—
Ares had used when he had overwritten
The preface to her master’s Collected Scars,
Which was inscribed by tusk, so a poem
Would later sing.
Soapsuds and sudden tears soaked House & Home,
And Eurycleia cried, “My son! My king!”
Daniel Bosch is director of the Writing & Publishing program at Walnut Hill, a high school for the arts in Natick, Massachusetts. (7/2009)