Slow as the Elephant – Elizabeth Sylvia

language-less, a monster – Troilus and Cressida
Athena loves Ulysses for his guile, Achilles for his prowess,
does not love quiet Ajax, though he grows
like a tree towards Olympus.
What patron will visit Ajax in his tent at night
and accompany the mammoth body, oiled and scraped,
as it wades towards the dark water of sleep?
Patron of the last child chosen in gym class.
Patron of the one who stands awkwardly by the swings.
Patron of the girl who lingers while someone speaks to her friend,
nervously cleaning her teeth with her tongue.
Slow as the elephant, both Greeks and Trojans call Ajax. Brainless, dull.
They say he carries his wit in his belly, his stomach in his head,
though Aristotle knew the elephant surpassed all other animals.
The deceptiveness of men’s talk itches Ajax’s skin.
Always there are those of us who drift slightly below the notice of the gods.
Patron of the boy at the window, at the edge of the field.
Patron of the extra whose face appears eternally in the crowd,
of those waiting to be brought up from the minor leagues, from the typing pool.
Patron of all those who have felt blood coursing the looping roadways of the body
and readied, but for whom no opening has come.

Read: Reading and Writing about Shakespeare by Elizabeth Sylvia

Elizabeth Sylvia (she/her) is a writer of poems and other lists who lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she teaches high school English and coaches debate. Elizabeth’s work is upcoming or has recently appeared in Salamander, Pleiades, Soundings East, J Journal, RHINO, Main Street Rag and a bunch of other wonderful journals. She is currently working on a verse investigation of the writer Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard.

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