MY FATHER TEACHES ME A MAGIC WORD
"Hey boychik, wanna learn a magic word," he asks,
white pillar smoke of hair above my skinny bones.
"I already know two magic words, papa -- Please
and Thank You." "Hah" he spits, those are nice
felicities, not magic. Come with me." And we walk
from our red brick fortress, past the high school,
through gardens where the rich machers live.
It's a long way for my little legs and he pulls a roll
of peppermints from his pocket. We each take one
and he tells me the story of Achilles' rage, how
he chased Hector three times around the walls
of Troy and how Athena, Hope of Soldiers guided
his spear point through the space in Hector's armor,
into the tender flesh of his vulnerable neck. He
gurgled the way he did when he brushed his teeth,
loud and wet, but without the explosion of spit
and he told me how Achilles tied his dead enemy
to his chariot and dragged him through the dust
around the beetling walls of Troy.
In his gray-green eyes, a fire of revenge, anger
inextinguishable, rich as cr¸me anglaise,
palpable and thick, Hector's corpse flailing,
shredding on bleeding rocks before the city's iron gates.
Steve Klepetar is a Professor of English and Faculty Director of Advising at Saint Cloud State University.