oil on canvas @1906
George Hitchcock (American, 1850-1913)
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
The following piece was my entry for the Medusa Mythology Creative Writing Contest in which I was tasked to retell a classic Greco-Roman myth from the point of view of a heroic helper. I hope you enjoy.
When he landed on Ogygia, it was dark. Dark enough that I could not see his weathered body worn by years of struggle. Dark enough that I could only see his magnetic brilliance. I immediately decided that like Ogygia, I would be an island of beauty among his ugly waters of trauma and ache. I sang. At the sound of my voice, his eyes met mine. Even behind tears, his eyes shone so intensely that they pierced the darkness and bore into me. I initially believed that my voice, silk like my braided hair, caused his tears— at last! Relief from the turmoil!— but they never stopped. Not in song, not in silence.
We made simple introductions. Calypso. Odysseus. Now, when mortals say my name, it is always in tandem with his. But for seven years, we were the only ones with the power to utter our names. My name, so powerful from his lips. Powerful enough to fell the thickest trees, to brave the wildest storms, to decline immortality, to leave. His name, powerful, but not because I was breathing it. Because that is just who he was: powerful. Brilliant. Odysseus.