*ship*

Wynkin, Blynkin & Nod

'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea.

Eugene Field

Early in the morning when Dawn in her youth was just touching the horizon with her rosy fingers, Alkinoos already hovered over the ship in which Odysseus would sail home. He was supervising the stowage of Odysseus' newly acquired bounty. Many of Alkinoos' councillors and leading citizens had spent the evening arranging that some engraveable item was prepared as a gift for this legendary figure. "To Odysseus from your friend..." was seen on the side of more than one ornate vase. Surely it was part of greatness to be remembered by greatness, perhaps was the thought passing through their minds.

When Alkinoos was satisfied with the ship's progress, he returned to his palace for mid-morning brunch. As the monarch of this island Alkinoos made offering of an ox to Zeus after which everyone fell to eating. Though Odysseus still looked spent from her recent ordeal, her eyes somewhat sunken and her figure somewhat lean, she did not so heartily attend to her meal as check her wrist watch every half hour for that moment when she could once more be on her way home. Arete was sensitive to Odysseus' restlessness and nudged Alkinoos to make his final blessings.

He sent around Pontonoos with wine made of dark golden honey, filled with the sweetness of a mild summer evening sun. Pontonoos poured freely into each and every goblet. "With this mead I invoke our parent Zeus for ourselves and this our good friend Odysseus," said Alkinoos pouring out a portion of his wine. Then stood Arete saying, "We ask that Zeus send you pers blessings added to our own as you make your way seaborne to your beloved homeland." All poured out an offering from their cups, then drank long and deep of its remaining contents.

Odysseus stood up. "I long only for husband and child and yet not only have you provided me with a swift ship to Ithaka, but with rich gifts. Your generosity is bountiful. I ask that you too be blessed by the deities tenfold for your hospitality and that you may always know joy."

With those words the feast was concluded. Both Arete and Alkinoos arranged for servants to escort Odysseus in parade to the ship. Nausicaa held Odysseus' hand as if they had always been best-girlfriends as they strolled to the dock. Demodokos sang rousing paeans to the gentler deities.

When the last of the supplies and Odysseus herself were loaded onto the ship, they launched to cheering crowds on the beach. The rowers sat before their rowlocks and, with the motion of a single individual, caught the sea in their oars, speeding themselves across its surface as if they were racing across ice.

A bed was made up for Odysseus on the afterdeck. Feeling at peace in ways she hadn't experienced in years, she soon fell into the embrace of Slumber. Her spirit flew faster than light through the realm of Somnus and to where her heart called. She did not awake throughout the journey.

 

Special Delivery.


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Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps