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Jul/Aug 2018 Poetry Special Feature

I Confide in the Goddess Circe about My Divorce

by Jennifer Finstrom

Image courtesy of British Library Photostream

Image courtesy of British Library Photostream



I Confide in the Goddess Circe about My Divorce

"It was Circe, the goddess. She was weaving as she sang, an intricate, enchanting piece of work, the kind a goddess fashions." —Book 10, "The Wind and the Witch," lines 220223, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson

I don't quite answer her question, tell her instead how I left the Fitzgerald translation of The Odyssey behind, uncertain by then if it had been his or mine to begin with. After that, I made plans with him over email to read the new Emily Wilson translation together as a sort of strange, small book club. That never happened, of course, and I'm only sort of sorry. I had confused it with The Iliad and realized too late that inviting an ex to discuss Odysseus' twenty year absence might be awkward—though more, perhaps, for him than me.

Circe doesn't scare me, even standing in the middle of my apartment. I know that she has no plans to turn me into anything, and she admires my jewelry as I show her piece after piece: the snake bracelets with glittering eyes, the good blue brooch that was my grandmother's, the necklace with red stones that makes my neck as heavy as a queen's. I fill her arms with scarves and hope she'll admire them too, enough to trade me the sea-colored mantle around her shoulders that I know she wove herself.

This isn't the first conversation I've had with her, have invoked her at least once in each of the past four decades, would phone her every night if I could, give her updates on developments and visits, the who, what, where. If I could borrow a fraction of her power, slip it on like the cheap rings I buy for myself, I'd know how much to use and for what. After she's gone, vanishing while my back is turned, I imagine the sea lapping at my windows. I put on every piece of green jewelry I own, still trying to tell her just one thing I lost when he left and can name nothing. My poems all reach the same conclusion, the one definitive spell I'm able to cast on my own.

 

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