Hermes, by Rachel Hadas


Messenger, courier, bearer of commands,
he is the god assigned to dart
down to give Calypso the unwelcome
news she must release Odysseus
from her island. Having said his piece,
he gets to zoom back up to Mount Olympus.
As for the mess that nymphs as well as men
fall heir to — loss and jealousy and grief —
he lets her mop it up.
                These days, he's less
of a separator than a joiner.
A facilitator (chat rooms, message boards)
who steers adopted children toward their birth
mothers, speeds classmates trying to trace classmates,
terrorists looking for like-minded friends,
he's busier than ever. But the end
of every task is just as Homer tells it:
lightly he steps away from our entanglement
into a neutral zone, an endless noon
immune to disappointment and desire.

From Laws: Poems, by Rachel Hadas, Lincoln: Zoo Press, 2004. Reprinted with the kind permission of the author.


Image: Head of Hermes. A fragment of a kylix (drinking cup), Attic, 490–480 BCE. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2011.604.1.515.