The Trojans kept Helen for twelve years,
winning at least a little while.
So often we focus on the loss
rather than the years of attainment.
But any love that matters will one day
be taken for granted. Last night,
lying down to sleep next to you
on wrinkled sheets, warm where
the dog curled, cold by our feet,
I realized as your hand grazed my thigh
you hadn’t touched me all day.
Each morning when I wake I understand
you’re like an eagle scanning the next ridge.
The bed heaves as you rise first,
your steps hard, stiff, while the erupting
sky behind you eases from gravel gray
to blue. You don’t glance back
at the soft curve of my body,
not yet rigid with the day’s to-dos.
What you do is place cereal and fruit
in a bowl, then call my name.
The milk cold. The peach sliced.
Without motive or need
we sleep, eat, read, breathe together,
you running a hand under my shirt
whenever you want. But I was talking
about Helen, about how she loved
as she wished at least once, willing
to witness the loss of a world for it.
“Loss and Attainment” was previously published in New Millennium Writings 2007-2008, issue17, under the title “Helen of Troy.”