The subflooring is littered with ancient baby and pet stains, and paint specks, and smears of spackle, but the walls are now a lovely shade of watery blue-green. The yellow chairs are pulled up around the hearth like stumps around a campfire.
The temperature outside is 10 below zero. I am thinking of the poems of Cavafy.
He didn’t know, King Kleomenis, he didn’t dare—
he just didn’t know how to tell his mother
a thing like that: Ptolemy’s demand,
to guarantee their treaty, that she too go to Egypt
and be held there as a hostage—
a very humiliating, indecorous thing.
And he would be about to speak yet always hesitate,
would start to tell her yet always stop.
--from "In Sparta," trans. E. Keeley and P. Sherrard
Boys and their mothers, boys and their mothers.
Her response? "She laughed, saying of course she’d go, / happy even that in her old age / she could be useful to Sparta still."