Achilles

by Pierce Nahigyan

Who remembers that low and unfurling sound, as had never been heard in all the lands where mortals pray, in anguish the depths no mortal prayer had stooped to, the roar of a great becoming, of a world rent of its last legend, and a single man, mourned by thousands of men. No women mourned Achilles in his poisoned heap. At the bottom of the scaling ladder, where he fell, hours passed before his swift-footed form was counted amiss. And hours more, till twilight’s fading shadows, till he was discovered. No woman mourned Achilles. It was the men, the thousand thousand thousand of Agamemnon, the men in their tents bereft of limbs and gods of mercy, men in the burning city, the men in the field who howled, the men of weary swords. The women of Troy had seen him thresh their husbands and brothers like a hot scythe in dry wheat. They had heard him tear their sons apart like a wild dog in a frenzy. They had tasted tears. The women of Troy wailed not for the Myrmidon King. They fled from their infested homes with curses for him and the Aegeans, fled from fire, fled from pain, fled from ransack and pillage and rape when able. Those that could not bit their tongues and drank their own blood.

Who remembers the cry of a thousand thousand thousand tired men ten years from home, and who remembers the sound of the women drowning, and who remembers the fire’s bite and the poisoned arrow’s sting? It was a song that ended an age.

And such a song survives it.