ORPHEUS - Rosemary Sullivan Poems

 
 

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ORPHEUS

He glanced around to check if the treacherous gods
had really given him the reward promised for his accomplished song
and there she was, Eurydice restored, perfectly naked and fleshed
in her rhyming body again, the upper and lower smiles and eyes,
the line of mouth-sternum-navel-cleft, the chime of breasts and hips
and of the two knees, the feet, the toes, and that expression
of an unimaginable intelligence that yoked all these with a skill
she herself had forgotten the learning of: there she was, with him
            once more
just for an instant as she vanished. And then he heard her from
            behind
the invisible veil, absence: a shrill and batlike but lexical indictment.
Why had he violated the divine command, why, when he had seized
all song to himself and robbed her of power to open her own
            oblivion?
It grew in volume and now seemed to spew from an insane old
            mother with one breast
hanging like a huge withered testicle from a rent in her weathered
            gown,
who was being watched by a tall woman, copper-helmet-coiffed,
            richly suited in salmon colour,
a mythical allusion, since salmon were long extinct in the bays and
           rivers here:
songs never brought them anymore. The young restrained breasts
           and the old free one
oppressed him equally and he went to live among men, waiting for
           the crazy
and the competent to join forces and come for him with their
            scissors.
Orpheus listened patiently to my poem and when it quieted he said
            to me:
That wasn’t it at all. I sang outward from my face to blue spaces
            between clouds,
to fern fronds, and men and women sipped my song as you drink
             from a stream going by.
What I sang is lost in time, you don’t kmow what it was, all you have
            is your own
old stories about me. And if women tore me into pieces, maybe that
            only signifies
each one keeps part of my body, which is melody among visible
            things.