Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

Continuing the Story

You are not here, Beloved, but I know
you remember how mist
rises off a river, and the story
continues, as it must,
Eurydice just past the threshold
but not yet embraced
by the darker recesses of the cave.
If there is light, it is dusk light.
She is still apparent,
watching as the lifeline in her hand
turns to dry streambed,
her breath to a light wind in the reeds.
And Orpheus? He’s a confluence
of birdcall in the meadow.
Bless loss, Eurydice whispers. She can
still form words, although soon
they will lift in a cloud of clatter, like birds
in the pine grove. And her mind?
Her mind is an empty mirror
in which the world now recedes,
as once it had advanced, confirming her—
broken cloud, empty gate,
the throat of a flower, the thick
bright beak of a thrush; olive trees
on the sloping hill, each callus
of lichen on stone, the shiver of a leaf.
Heartbeat, yes. Footfall, yes.
And then his face  . . . She can still
see the face of her lost beloved.
After love she used to hold his head
against her breasts as he slept, and once,
their bodies slippery as fish,
they made love in the river.
River is lure and longing; river is
the deepest bow one can make
to the fact of being wed to a cosmos
light-years deep. Bless loss,
she says to the fern by her foot.
And while I do not understand, not really,
the story ravels into actual rain,
and the grass, the stones, the cedars,
the pond—everything I daily conjure,
blurs. What was I thinking of, all those years
trying to be good, trying to be known,
trying not to falter into loneliness?
Nearer death, I bow. Here I am.
Once, I don’t know why, water formed
in the hollows of the planet’s surface,
primeval pools so still they held
the farthest furnace flares of the stars.
And in those pools the cosmos
turned toward itself, aware of itself
for the first time. As deep as all space
and light, as deep as the visible,
I am even now a ripple in that pool, Beloved—
and this, it occurs to me now, is freedom.  

return to top