Bryan R. Monte
The name Odysseus gave Polyphemus
to outwit and escape the ‘rude and lawless’ Cyclops
as he planned his escape from the giant’s cave
with at least some plunder and half his crew after
the giant had boulder-blocked their exit and eaten six men,
violating his divine obligation to hospitality.
‘Who did this to you?’ the other one-eyed giants asked
summoned by Polyphemus’ blinding screams.
And he gave them the name Odysseus had given him:
‘Nobody is killing me,’ which one professor
said Homer meant as comic relief, but others
that the giants interpreted Polyphemus’ pain
as divine punishment, so none offered assistance,
and Odysseus and his crew escaped to their ship.
‘Nobody ever uses this ramp,’
the bus driver says as she reluctantly gets her hook
to pry up and open the folded metal ramp
encrusted with a year’s dirt to the bus’ floor.
‘Nobody ever uses this toilet,’
the concierge says as she leads me through
a warren of passages in the modern building
and asks if I can make it up ‘just two steps.’
‘Nobody has ever graduated in a wheelchair,’
the beadle says the day I receive my PhD,
his office down a spiral staircase with no lift;
all three using a referent that erases my presence.
Unlike Odysseus, I give none of them my name, hoping
to safely navigate in reverse the dangerous way home.