The Baptism of Achilles

On the flood plain of the river, the cry
Of outrage, the death-resistant wetness,
The infant hero twisting his dry
Gripped ankle in mid-air, the setness
Of fate that will dangle him over the try
And luck of events by a vulnerable limb.
He won’t be the last great son to die
From the hold a mother has on him.

–January 16, 1994

(“The Baptism of Achilles” appeared in the Fall 1998 issue of The Brownstone Review, Brooklyn NY.)


This poem plays on the Greek myth that the sea-goddess Thetis, the mother of the hero of Homer’s Iliad, dipped him as a baby in the river Styx so as to make him immortal. The ankle by which she held him, however–the famous “Achilles heel”–was not touched by the waters so that this was his one mortal part and exposed him to his death in the Trojan War.

Published on October 18, 2006 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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