By the Sea

By Maura Stanton

The spears on the plain of Troy
Glittered like things that hadn’t been invented—

Holiday tinsel, bristling antennas,
A cabinet of needles at the flu clinic—

And the sea was closer, only two miles away,
Gleaming like a strip of blue gel toothpaste.

That’s when a grasshopper, the size of a stapler,
Or perhaps a computer mouse, or a brick

Of cheddar cheese in your refrigerator,
Jumped from a crack outside the walled citadel,

Scaring a mother as she pressed the tip
Of a fibula through the cloth of her son’s tunic.

The fibula looked like a big, crude safety pin—
There are lots in museums, including hers,

For she dropped it into dry grass, and later on
Warriors trampled it into the clay clods

Of her fertile land, their shrieks and thrusts
As they stabbed her boy, dragged her by the hair,

Untelevised, but still remembered
By those who listened and then repeated

And repeated the same stories over and over
In hoarse voices, on clay tablets, in type, in pixels.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/08/by-the-sea/308067/