Vignette


Andromache, one misty morning,
walking the city's crown of stones,
is startled by a cry whose warning
pierces the marrow of her bones.

The child beneath her heart is stirred,
turns in its groove as if to know
what augury without a word
intrudes where such calm waters flow.

The sentry, stolid at his post,
salutes Prince Hector's pretty wife.
He cannot know how, ghost by ghost,
she has relinquished death for life.

He wonders why she reads this place
as if it were a graven prayer,
as if Scamander's cursive pace
inscribed the sum of blessings there.

How blessed–she thinks–this plain, unhaunted,
where those I cherished never bled;
blessed, to be ordinary, wanted
by the good man who shares my bed.

The mist has cleared; far off and pale,
the cry she heard takes form at last:
only a gull, circling a sail
approaching neither slow nor fast.


Rhina P. Espaillat, Her Place in These Designs, Truman State University Press, 2005.