Achilles and Patroclus Were Gay

by Marilee Goad

Sings the graffiti written on my undergraduate library bathroom stall,
marker ink etching a thesis citing pages from the Robert Fagles translation:
Well, gay means happy, and they were happy, writes an addendum in
permanent pink pen: “are they arguing or agreeing? can’t decide,” writes
a friend in a message, photo attached: nor can I. One wonders at the
seminar producing this heated lavatory debate and the text’s evergreen
appeal. (Homer, could you have known? But then I’m sure he did.)
I sink into my own thoughts, mulling over the rapid reactions to a
statement with every answer and no answer: can we define love
for someone else? I think, if someone like me had wooed Helen —
that is, if a woman had wooed Helen, if they had fallen in love and
run off to a land where they lay under the stars and snuck kisses
at twilight, the crystal blue sea rippling with promise, without judgment:
what then? I whisper to no one that if Achilles and Patroclus were gay,
then they were happy, love un-shattered by the meaning of a spear’s
point, and isn’t that all that really matters, anyway?

Marilee Goad attended the University of Chicago and has published poetry in Georgetown University School of Medicine’s Scope arts magazine.