In This Ordinary Myth

Aug 13, 2003 at 12:00 am
by Melinda LaPere, Detroit

Hephaestus, the one who can
figure things out,
drives a wood paneled station wagon.
He carries a low musk of perpetual coal
from the boiler room. Forget Aphrodite,
he rides with Hestia, keeper of the hearth.
She concentrates on the road
hits panic brakes on the dash
wills a destination. Hephaestus' eyes
never leave the rearview mirror
nailing unbuckled children
to a hot vinyl seat.

This far from Olympus
there is only the monotony
of I-94 and the labyrinth of a little trailer park
where Hestia cooks in a cramped cabana
swatting mosquitoes,
trying to fit in with her neighbors.

On Saturdays, Homer calls square dances in the old barn
tilts his head to listen-look at the stomping twirls
his almost singing voice guides home.
In the dark, children click rocks,
tip-toe twilight boundaries,
searching for snipe shadows.
The next morning, they offer arms
covered in poison ivy
to be anointed with white gas.
They glisten in the light
intoxicated by the fumes.

Across the icy waters of Lake Huron
Sarnia lies as foreign as Troy
remembered for sweet, smuggled whiskey
stowed below by that old pirate
Uncle Odysseus. He and a foolish crew
are trying to cross aboard his puny fishing boat.
In the moonlight, waves rise
as wild-maned as any
from Poseidon's herd.


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