West of the Hellespont

by: Mark J. Mitchell

Stay awake, listen carefully boy,
this is important.
The day is for sleeping,
but before the sun goes down
make sure you’ve gathered enough wood.
Look. Look over that way.
That’s east. If you’re ignorant
of other facts, your job is just keeping
track of that, just that one
direction. Hold it in your blood.
No, remember, one day
(You’re right, one night. Don’t be impertinent)
a bright flame will be leaping
on that hill—that one, across the sound.
That night is the whole use of your manhood.
Our fire will glow. It means that they
have broken the walls of puissant
Troy—yes, Troy. Trojan women weeping.
Children cast in wells to drown.
There will be no city where the holy city stood.
Now listen, I’ll die soon. No boy,
don’t cry. Here’s flint and steel. You can’t
forget our mission. We send news sweeping
to Greece (really to that round
hill over there). It’s our joy, our duty, our good.