Thursday, January 23, 2020

Geoffrey Brock / Ovid old

Ovid old

As  a pale gauze 

rose over Asia, he awoke 

             surrounded by, not Rome, 
                            but huts, hanging 
like tattered effigies of home 
             from threads of cedar smoke; 
                            Europe was dark. 
The woman by him also woke,
             gently helped him to stand, 
                            wrapped him in fur, 
and led him outside by the hand 
             to see the sun’s great yolk 
                            push up against 
the horizon’s rim. After it broke
             and bled into the bowl 
                            of the Black Sea, 
it rose again, transformed and whole. 
             For minutes, neither spoke. 
                            “Time,” he recited,
“tames the bullock to the yoke.” 
             He laughed, more blithe than bitter, 
                            the way he did 
these days when he could find no fitter 
             punchline to some old joke 
                            than himself. The woman 
knew the laugh if not the joke, 
             the moods if not the meanings 
                            of his strange words, 
uttered aloud, to no one—keenings 
             that once had made him choke 
                            with grief, but that 
evolved, as Daphne’s cries (a cloak 
             of bark abrading her body) 
                            gave way to birdsong 
in her branches. Some things no god 
             or Caesar can revoke.

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