The Once and the Now

You will never be again What you never were before.  Theodor Storm Every morning Odysseus sits on the beach and casts his eyes across the sun-freckled water. The breeze is fresh and the waves rumble gently as they break. He is crying. For seven years he has been a prisoner in paradise, the unwilling consort of the beautiful nymph Calypso, who loves and fawns on him. Odysseus can’t bear it. Since leaving Troy victorious, he has wandered the seas, hounded by the god Poseidon, who would prevent him from finding his way home to Ithaca. Eventually Zeus is driven to pity and orders Calypso to release him. “Where shall a man find sweetness to surpass his own home and his parents? In far lands he shall not, though he find a house of gold.” Odysseus builds himself a raft, and after one last night of lovemaking and weeping he sails off alone. The home we return to is never the home we left. When Odysseus lands on Ithaca, he learns that his estate has been occupied by suitors vying for the hand of his wife Penelope, and dissipating his fortune while they wait. Odysseus comes to her, disguised as a beggar, and kills the suitors. After he proves to her who he is, the couple goes to their bed, which Odysseus had made with his own hands, using a tree planted in the ground as one of the bedposts. They make love and fall asleep. There is no space between the two of them, between the couple and Odysseus’s handiwork, between the bed and the tree, between the tree and the earth. It as if they all sprang fully formed from the soil of Ithaca. Oneness has been restored. At least for now. The fate of Aeneas was to be

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