I returned home from Atlantis
with new armor and a new head —
blades still sharp from the last stoning —
feeling very nearly a tourist in my own land.
They touch my face and recoil
and their surprise surprises me:
How could they expect baby-smooth skin
on the cheeks of the lone survivor?
And so I launch into the stories
that I know will be legends one day —
for the tragic hero is still the hero, somehow —
and show them the scars crossing my back.
I speak of the sculptures and the gold
and the mighty waterfall atop the mountain.
These are things they have heard before,
and still they gape in awe as I recollect.
I speak of the storms and the Beast
that hunted me by day and haunted me by night,
that made an onion of my crew and proceeded
to peel each layer until only I remained.
This they had not known, and they reach out,
clutching me, crying for my men, but —
Oh, what fools they are! to cry for those
who ascended from one Heaven to another —
when here I am with whitened scars and
nightmares of the monster who left me for dead
while taking my men off to paradise.
But I have seen Atlantis, Heaven on Earth,
and I have escaped the hideous Beast —
am I not stronger for having done so? —
I am. And I am reborn for it.