Cal­li­machus’s Hymn to Athena

The Iowa Review - - CONTENTS - Stephanie Burt

“I have a room that way,” I said, point­ing north­west into the shape of the hills ris­ing against more dis­tant hills, vaguely dis­tin­guish­able as deep­en­ing shades of black. “No,” she said. “Not there. They’ll find my blood all over your floor. Even if you wash it away, it’ll light up in those spe­cial lights, like in the movies.” “Where then?” “Some­where else. I shouldn’t know where. It should be a se­cret.” “All right,” I said. “Oh god, his face. You caught him good. Sissy will need to put makeup on him for the cer­e­mony. Imag­ine it,” she said. “What are you do­ing?” she asked. “Don’t get off here.” “I have a room that way.” “That’s too de­press­ing. God, I couldn’t bear go­ing to your room. Keep go­ing. Good god. Keep go­ing.” “OK,” I said, and turned off the blinker. And we went on, past a pil­lared rock for­ma­tion out in the wa­ter and a few beach vil­lages and the un­tenanted shop­ping cen­ter, and past the city that had fallen asleep with­out us. “My grand­par­ents lived down there,” she said. She tapped the win­dow. “Just there. Ev­ery sum­mer when we were kids, we were just there,” she said. “Grandma’s liv­ing with Mom now, but that’s where the house was. Look, that’s it.” The lit­tle sea­side neigh­bor­hood was laid out in neat rows and lit with lamp­posts so that I could make out from above the grid of streets and homes by the lighted ver­tices, swerv­ing around a bit on the road as I did. She said, “That’s why Sissy’s wed­ding’s here. Right? I’d prob­a­bly do it the same way if it were me. Not now. But I would’ve, if I’d mar­ried first. No, I don’t want you to get off here. Any­where but here.” She put her hand down upon mine on the shifter and squeezed my crooked fin­gers. A lance of white agony carved, in an in­stant, up my arm and rat­tled my eyes like pill bot­tles. “I wasn’t get­ting off,” I man­aged. “You’ll have to bury me. Knock me over the head first,” she said. “Do you have a shovel, or will you dig my grave with your hands like a dog?” I told her to cut it out. “It’s not funny any­more,” I said. “Don’t be so dull,” she said. “Good god. Imag­ine me be­ing mur­dered by a dull man. Good god! What are you even do­ing here? You don’t live here do you?” “Yeah,” I said. “I have a room back that way.” “I won­der some­times—i used to won­der—pass­ing through a Po­dunk spot like this: who the hell ends up liv­ing here?”

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