- Fate’s Victims
Andromache as the Flames Consume Hector
I can’t bear to watch the flames eating you like a snarling cur once the battle’s done. Dead men’s blood soils the bright morning dew.
Instead I turn my eyes to the clear blue sky, but smoke from your pyre blots out the sun. I can’t bear to watch the flames eating you.
I recall when I was first ushered through Troy’s halls, our lives together just begun, but now your dead blood soils the morning dew.
We were shy as mice, but our love soon grew though you were fine silk and I homespun. I can’t bear to watch the flames eating you.
It pained your heart to see the lengthening queues of hungry subjects as the war wore on, and dead men’s blood soiled the bright morning dew.
I grieve amid this royal retinue, since you’ve left me alone with our small son. I can’t bear to watch the flames eating you, your dead ashes falling, staining the dew. [End Page 580]
Hector’s Ghost Consoles Andromache after She Fails to Kill Herself at His Funeral Rites
My darling wife, though you cannot hear me here on Lethe’s blessed forgetful shore, we’ll soon be together again and free
of the world’s cheap glitter and mockery: the war glory I sought, a tawdry whore. My darling wife, though you cannot hear me,
I have the dark knowledge of what will be: the Greeks will loot and rape and kill—and more. But we’ll be together again and free
in Elysian bliss, shaded by soft trees while zephyrs blow and sweet melodies pour into our souls, though now you can’t hear me.
Part of me wants to tear my hair and weep for all my dear ones lost in endless war; but I’m happy here, forgetful and free.
Don’t rush off toward eternity; no mere mortal can go against Fate’s law, my darling wife. Though you can’t hear me, we’ll soon be together again—and free.
Touring Omaha Beach
Guns and men are silent now, thank the Lord, if indeed a god’s the one we should have thanked when that steel storm of shells and bullets roared
And men drowned, their bodies washing ashore, their once-alive eyes staring, still and blank as the guns now, no thanks to a good lord— [End Page 581]
if there is a god who watches, assured, and assuring us this world’s not a prank when that steel storm of shells and bullets roared
And madmen tried to kill innocent hordes: devil-troops pitiless as sharks circling planks. But the guns are silent now, thank some lord,
or, better, brave men who wielded the truth’s sword and stormed that beachhead in their righteous ranks accompanying the steel storm that roared
And rang out in that last virtuous war, won without an indifferent god who shrank. [End Page 582]
Robert Cooperman’s poems have appeared in the Southern Humanities Review, Louisiana Literature, Slant, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Ranch Wife.