Dido’s Will by Karen Mason

Dido’s Will by Karen Mason

To Anna

Wind pours into me,

And I pour out,

Threading first through the people

But eventually floating above us—

They with their warm pulsations and I…

Folded and cold

Around a blade yet to rust.

“What have you done to me?”

Anna, please.

What have I done to you?

What have you done to me?

I wasn’t to love.

I wasn’t to trust.

I knew.

Why didn’t you?

You dignified my missteps but only

Too late.

Let Elissa’s city watch her burn

As she watches her fare melt

And as she ever tangles the stars

For the one whose duty faulted hers.

Don’t burn alongside.

You’re little to Carthage

And little to me.

To Sychaeus

By my blood, you were destroyed,

And, by your ethereal word,

I fled before blood could destroy me, too.

Years like Penelope’s were spent with my

Near unfaltering patience

But all in purposeful futility.

Is her Greek there with you?

Can she call me a sister?

My own is dim;

Odysseus’ tapestry seamstress would doubtless prove

Better company.

My memory of you was

My tapestry,

But I don’t anymore merit

The city I built around it.

A Trojan came,

And I loved him the way

I wouldn’t love the throne-yearning others.

He loved me, too.

He loved me.

He loved me.

But he means to leave before light,

And so do I.

Carthage can have my seat.

I don’t imagine Anna will fit it;

She’s hearted like a child.

I’ll soon be next to you if you’ll have me.

To Aeneas

Go, January prince.

Go if you feel more obligation

To leave than to stay,

And pray that your duality

Won’t destroy another as it’s destroyed me.

You were the

Lone, gleaming confidence

That arose in me in the years since Sychaeus

Bleated, in a dream,

His truth to me;

I hadn’t even sisterly faith.

How am I to trust

When the only man of late I’ve trusted

Has meant to deceive me in the night?


I loved Sychaeus.

What have you done to my love for Sychaeus?

I should have daggered myself then

When he had gone.

Anna will help me into his world.

She’s a stupid, piteous girl,

But she knows how to lay coins and strike matches.

If I’ve guessed that wrong of her,

Just as well.

I’ll will my spirit to lurk in the waves

‘Neath your ships

And topple you over.

Death bears no bounds

To a woman who’s built her own city.


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