Jessica Lao

Cassandra Speaks

Say it never was. Say I never left
you, that you never met
me / that you never
walked into the
atrium, all
smile / that
I, bird with /
out flight, had
not dared to beat
sight, strain glimpse of
those golden curls / say it
never was, & maybe I’ll believe you.


—spinning & spinning she weaves her sorrow and         rage
       into the map he left home         on purpose?         no,
   to give the suitors,        the hooters, the hellbound zoot-
suiters waiting at the gate         barbarians from the greek bar

bar, the only sound made by those beyond            where is he?
           deft, weft, one-stroke two-stroke her mind  drifts to a lonely
      bar on the aegean        where rocks crashed & foam hissed.
              how foolish was she           how sweet
                                                                       the wine.

    but no, the tapestry must be made and libations poured and
undone, unspun like her mind     out of this world     anticlea sings
          outside with the chorus tonight & she sighs, wishing tele
       machus would grow up and beat up his father already.
                      is it midnight, now? ten years, so soon? where has the time
          gone, like a thread    into the night?

                  I do not trust greeks, even bearing gifts, said wise laoco
                      on but he was eaten by snakes and this is one
              trick penelope cannot control.     she’d like to end the tale

             now, snip it like one of her strings but
                        the boys are still young and
                               he might yet come home and
                           she’d really rather take antinous right
                                       now but  spinning,  spin
                                          ning, needle & thread she
                                       must go on.   she’s weaving a
                                          family now        probably not hers  but
                                       it is almost done        it is never
                                                done   it is hers to rip up   & hers
                                                              to love    hers to burn and
                                                                     hers to kiss  and she
                                                                                   lo v e s    i

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