aspersaperastra said: Baisemain, with Odysseus and Persephone.
Baisemain—a kiss on the hand.
his hands are tar-rough, black beneath the nails and salt at the knuckles; bending to kiss his palms is like diving from the rocks into deep water. you say husband, like that is something other than a shield, a weight, a ghost.
his mouth moves as he speaks of olive trees and marriage beds, but the words sound stilted in his tongue, which you imagine too rimed with salt and blood to find its way to the hearth-fire.
(the courtyard is littered with the corpses of suitors, slaughtered by his hand and your son’s—they lie at your feet now, as they should have from the start; arrogant mouths slack and ravenous eyes unseeing.
you are glad at the sacrifice, made on your altar and not to the other grey-eyed goddess whom he loves.)
wife, he says, and then winces, hearing the hollowness of it. (you never ask their names—you were the one he returned to. all else is but a boast around the feast-table.)
queen, he tries again, kneeling before you in the blood and straw. You feel the weight of it then, those twenty years from girlhood to regnant womanhood—you are suddenly conscious of the grey at your temples, the heavy weight of your breasts. Something of your grief must show on your face, for he tries again:
ithaca, he finally sighs, gathering up fistfuls of your himation as though he is afraid you will vanish from him, pressing his face to your stomach. He clings to you as a man drowning, and there is salt at his knuckles. ithaca, my ithaca.
you surface. I am here, you say. You have come.