Orpheus

Original Text: 
Conflicting Desire (Victoria, BC: Ekstasis Editions, 2000): 74-75.
1He glanced around to check if the treacherous gods
2had really given him the reward promised for his accomplished song
3and there she was, Eurydice restored, perfectly naked and fleshed
4in her rhyming body again, the upper and lower smiles and eyes,
5the line of mouth-sternum-navel-cleft, the chime of breasts and hips
6and of the two knees, the feet, the toes, and that expression
7of an unimaginable intelligence that yoked all these with a skill
8she herself had forgotten the learning of: there she was, with him
9            once more
10just for an instant as she vanished. And then he heard her from
11            behind
12the invisible veil, absence: a shrill and batlike but lexical indictment.
14all song to himself and robbed her of power to open her own
15            oblivion?
16It grew in volume and now seemed to spew from an insane old
17            mother with one breast
18hanging like a huge withered testicle from a rent in her weathered
19            gown,
20who was being watched by a tall woman, copper-helmet-coiffed,
21            richly suited in salmon colour,
22a mythical allusion, since salmon were long extinct in the bays and
23           rivers here:
24songs never brought them anymore. The young restrained breasts
25           and the old free one
26oppressed him equally and he went to live among men, waiting for
27           the crazy
28and the competent to join forces and come for him with their
29            scissors.
30Orpheus listened patiently to my poem and when it quieted he said
31            to me:
32That wasn't it at all. I sang outward from my face to blue spaces
33            between clouds,
34to fern fronds, and men and women sipped my song as you drink
35             from a stream going by.
36What I sang is lost in time, you don't kmow what it was, all you have
37            is your own
38old stories about me. And if women tore me into pieces, maybe that
39            only signifies
40each one keeps part of my body, which is melody among visible
41            things.

Notes

13] Hades, god of the underworld, let Orpheus take his beloved Euridice up into the world of the living, with one condition: he should not look back at her until they both had finished their journey to life. Yet Orpheus did so, lost Euridice, and suffered death himself when a group of maenads, worshippers of Dionysis, tore his body into pieces in rage that he refused to sing for them. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Albert Frank Moritz or the Ekstasis Editions permissions department.</b>