Sunday, December 31, 2006

Orpheus and the Sirens

According to Herodotus, Orpheus was taken by Jason on the advise of the wise Centaur Chiron, in order to help the heroes pass the Sirens, who duly plunged into the sea when his music surpassed their own.

At some breadth of the sea
the song pierces its depth,
plunging from the ear and
leaving the singer to row
on more alone than ever
into the erasure of time.
Maybe all doors require
an openness to closure,
no one without its other.
There is nakedness
and then there is faith
in the charge which sustains
without proof, even though
no meter exists to register
its quaver of volt.
It is enough that he sings on
while we amble dully
into the killing fields of a life.
Yesterday an ice shelf
the size of Manhattan
tore off Greenland. Or was it
the South Pole? That was
last week. In a few years
the summer solstice will
celebrate blue seas at the
north pole, not a fleck of
ice in the eye. It’s happening
so fast and there’s nothing
to ground us in the pour.
The tombs of the kings
of Egypt are all split, their gold dust
and pottery shards all sifted,
decoded, emptied into
the vaults of an Alexandria
which no Osiris can row through.
All that counts is that the song
of Orpheus so enthralled
the Sirens so that they dove
themselves to doom. Take
measure from that. Only
the sea remains, emptier,
more ravenous for land than
ever, payment in lieu of
the white bones of the man
in the moon, her lost son
who lamps on overhead
this last morning, baring
the next page for someone
else to fill in with his
own theft of lucence,
his own ghastly seed
taking root with Eurydice
in the vast barrow of
of forever-loud need.