Euripides’ Cave Poem By Elizabeth Seydel Morgan
In Pericles’ city, cold marble nights,
Protagoras, Socrates, pacing beside me,
ideas like stars arcing, or steadily blazing, or
Mornings of papyri, mounting in rolls.
Reports of the War.
Afternoons, the agora, democracy’s
broil. Men tricked out in the old dried skins
of politics, masculine voices
braying the many tongues of money,
reports from the War.
Believers bellowing gods like crowds at the races
urging their runner on with noise.
So many signs to interpret—and I
with an eye for significance:
which citizen is rich, whose ignorance will kill,
whose wife is back at home, unclasping
another man’s warm gold necklace.
And all through the days of the sun,
the glare of the theater, rising around me.
Tiers of men hoarding their careful prizes,
bearing down on my actors,
surrounding my circle of chosen words
with ceaseless mutter and drone.
There’s a simple boat I can row
In a cave I call mine
I fire my light.
In Salamis I wait for the women in silence.
Late sun falls on the stones of the entry,
on the one sail in the dark blue Gulf.
It is so quiet, I hear Andromache crying.
Phaedra’s whispers, Medea breathing
before she screams.