‘Briseis Dreams of Ships’ by Elizabeth Theriot

— Hannah Cohen

like a vase, like oil           that flames

With the recent publication of Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, it makes me wonder about power and gender dynamics so present in classical literature. Modern interpretation can breathe new life and meaning into characters we’ve come to know as one-dimensional as evidenced in ‘Briseis Dreams of Ships’. Much like Briseis’s very role in the story, this poem shifts and sways in the balance. In careful indents, body and nature become intricately linked, as seen in “my anchor, plunge / my masts into           water”. The strength of this poem lies in its array of textures and sensations: “marble floors”, “rocks and moss”, and particularly “lambskin”—all these surfaces describe a woman rooted and imagining, whether it’s the Trojan War or the 21st century.

Crabfat Magazine