*Odysseus' Face*

Made to Rock and Roll

We knew we had to continue to act fast. I tied the crew to the bellies of the largest ewes. I could not well tie myself to a sheep. So, I saved the one ram the Cyclops kept inside for myself to simply hang onto from beneath.

Polyphemos was determined to find us and finish us off in one go. He fully intended to scour his cave from top to bottom. To begin he opened the cave to let the sheep out and stood at the entrance feeling the back of each one. My crew's terror fortunately kept them from making a sound or a move. They all made it out before my ram slowly started for the door.

"Why do you lag behind so?" Polyphemos asked his ram. "You're always the first out to graze on the fields and the first to rejoin the ewes. Perhaps you are mourning for your master's eye, lost by the villainous acts of that Myra whose bones I'll crush to make my bread."

I was beginning to have rather intimate feelings about the ram I was clinging to when finally he was herding the sheep out to open pasturage, then returning to the cave. I let go of my sheep and ran to release each of my crew. Together we herded the sheep to the ship.

At first those at the trireme were overjoyed to see us, then they noticed how many were missing and their faces fell at losing still more friends and family. "Quick, quick!" I yelled, "Get those sheep on board and launch."

Once we were as far out as words could still carry to shore, I called back to Polyphemos, "Make crew stew out of my companions will you? I think you will find us terribly unpalatable now, you cannibal. Take that for treating guests so abominably."

Polyphemos heard my taunts and in his heightened fury he took a large rock and hurled it from a nearby hill in our general direction. The rock landed close enough in the water to form a large wave which washed over our boat from stem to stern and carried us back to shore. I motioned for the crew to put their backs into getting us back out to sea immediately. When we were twice as far out as before I called out again, though the crew exclaimed that I was mad and to please stop.

"Polyphemos, if anyone ever asks you who blinded you, who put you to shame, you tell them Odysseus, she the daughter of Laertes and the conqueror of cities taught you a thing or two."

The Cyclops cried out in anguish, "It was foretold that I would lose my eye to one whose name is Odysseus." He then looked heavenward and prayed, "Parent Poseidon, look upon what some puny mortal has done to your son. If you care anything for our reputation, grant that Odysseus, daughter of Laertes, never sees her homeland. Or if it is ordained that she must make it home, see to it that many dark and sad days intervene between here and her return, that she loses all of her companions and that she finally comes to her homeland by a foreign sail to bitter strife within her very household."

Polyphemos then took up one more even larger rock and lobbed it our direction. It missed the boat. However, in the sheet of water that rose up and drove us to the shore where the other ships waited, I thought I could see the stern face of a divinity, gazing at me with wrathful eyes. I felt weak and nearly fell, as for a moment I seemed to lose all sense of balance.

We ate heartily of the sheep we had captured and slept deeply that night. Before Dawn barely lifted her eyelids we shipped out. Putting the land of the Cyclops as far behind us as possible.


An Old Windbag.

Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps