Thursday, June 20, 2013

To Apollo at Delphi

Nothing to say?
I've walked the two hundred miles
growing lean on simple food.
Your friend, the sun, struck into me
until all my previous walking
and all my present steps
burned likes words in a dream.
I pushed through the last miles
powered by exhaustion, my legs
weightless, forgetting how to rest,
my eyes washed over in mirages.
A ruined city held me one night,
but sleep never came, only the ringing
hammers of children scavenging marble.
An old woman found me, loosened
the laces on my ankles until I rose.
She ran across the rubble, fast as a doe.
On a broken block she raised her hands to the moon
and prophesied, the children climbing toward her
with their heavy baskets and torn skin.
She spoke of countries unknown to me,
people with barbarous names,
useless rantings to which the children
offered up their hurtled stones.
And remembering it I can't say it ever happened.
I'm not sure today any of my memories
are true, not even my unhappy life,
its generic details of death
and bankruptcy, its pitiful sacrifices
and glimpsed joys. All I'm sure of
is this walking through an earthly fire.
I washed the noxious salts from me,
paid the correct people my last coins.
Your priestess, Apollo, stands before me,
her eyes as glazed as mine and says
there are no words to heal me,
that silence is my balm,
Who are the great and the low
you have counseled? Who
are the ones you ever refused
at least some coupled lines
of bad poetry? What mortal son
of what city ever walked away
without your syllables on his lips?
I pull my thinning cloak closer
and shiver at how you treat me.
You treat me like one who has passed
from one life to one neither of us knows.

No comments:

Post a Comment