Afterwards: A Narrative

7 February 2021

By Philip Kuepper

It was, I thought, Poseidon, in the night,
who, in a fit of pique,
had gathered up the oars in a pile,
and left them to be sorted, and paired,
come morning; sculls for boats,
oars for rowboats, even a paddle
for a curragh, that had been carried home
on the back of the owner, the night before.

The storm had come quickly to the boil.
The wind had been briefly fierce.
Water had been sucked out of the inlet,
then spewed back in with force.
It had been assumed the oars were secure,
standing along the boathouse wall,
standing like exclamation points at rest.

All the more ironic, then,
when the storm came
with sudden exclaiming,
as storms will, on the coast.
Every such storm I think of
as Poseidon’s ego slighted
for not having been chosen,
over Athena, by the Athenians,
his image housed lavishly
in the Parthenon.  The seas
were not kingdom enough.

But, gods are like that,
over-sensitive, envious,
not easily appeased.
And we humans suffer
the brunt of their tempers.

Thus, the morning after the storm,
the piled mess of oars,
save one, that had stood its ground,
that had given as good as it got,
the exclamation of it
having put an end to the storm.

(24 January 2021)

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