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Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes

"How is it with you, that you do bend your eye on vacancy,
and with the incorporeal air hold discourse?"



i



Huge birds flap through the toxin dark.

She would prefer it on the whole if he spoke in a whisper.

In the air, feet floating over the smooth porphyry path,

Orpheus in a blue wool coat, Eurydice shaking.

Hermes flits between them.

If he were more inclined to speak he would say it works

first upon sensation would say it shimmers

through the natural arcades and alleys of the body

would say then leaks slowly back into fact.

God of this and god of that with beating wings at his ankle joints.

Huge birds murmur in the scrawny pines.

Her hair films with ice then hardens into sticks.

Bits of zero paper up her throat.

The sound so weak it hardly reached his ears.



ii



Eurydice there's been talk-

I am supposed to look straight ahead.

Eurydice take my hand.

I have been instructed to look straight ahead.

Are you hurt?

When you say today you mean-

This bridge, this bedroom.

I would prefer it on the whole if you spoke in a whisper.

Have you-

I have, yes. I think so, yes.

Are you saying

I am saying it.

. . . It's been one continuous accident-

-What did you say?

I think it's lovely the color of it.



iii



Hermes likes things to come easily. He didn't ask for this job.

He pulls the hood over his shining eyes. Technically,

if you count the business about the stolen cattle, God of Herdsmen

and Fertility of Herds, God of Luck, Furtiveness and Trickery,

Patron of Oratory with a General Interest in Literature

(some ghosts congregate by the brink) God of Roads

and Boundaries, Sleep and Dreams, God of Faring and The Distant

Message (their shuffling drops down the gorge, half-mile below

a fish leaps) Patron of Travellers and Rogues Vagabonds and Thieves,

Patron of Gymnasts. . . They move across a windless meadow.

Bright unshaken place. Hurry.



iv



He forgets that he can't-he forgets the condition.

He forgets himself.

He forgets her.

He wants assurance she is still there.

He is afraid she might disappear again.

After all she was suddenly gone.

He thinks she may be blushing.

He would like to address her.

He would like to touch her small shoulder bone.

This is a generation before Troy.

His feet hurt his head burns. He is concerned,

undisciplined, seeks recognition-she is a room full of paintings-

As her foot drags behind him bits of star chip off the iron rock.

And they are going unnoticed-nothing but the unresisting air-

Hermes herds them forward, touching her on the temple, pushing

flat against his back. Ceaseless prologue, return him

more violently, there is no ordinary life, perception is

thirsty. In the claustral dark, bracken grind against their legs.



v



I can think of three ways in which an accident might happen.

(Eurydice opens her mouth and suggests)

You were exasperated with what you had done. You were impatient.

You were absent-minded-your attention was wandering.

(He lowers his eyes) It's a technical problem.

(Hermes growls It's not a technical problem)

Do you realize

It does

For example

O but they wilt like other things.

After all I'm behind you.

On condition-

On condition Sir I'm behind you.

(Sir, Angel of the Upper Air, Unnatural Officer, Minister of What

Keeps, Illustrious Bishop, Jewel of Clerics, Floating Mirror of the Church)

(Whatever brings it up into the nervous system more suddenly)

(Whatever nails the salt-flesh onto the bed.)



vi



Would this be pointless for you.

I think probably.

You prefer to be alone?

I like the impersonality of it.

Is this because the memory is more interesting or because the presence is

disturbing?-You've stopped. Have you stopped?

(Love anywhere but in me!)

Does this irritate you?

(Anywhere but in me take this.)

If I could play for you now (Cries Hermes O play for us now)

Don't be silly even Tantalus has not gone back to his waves.

Is this not. . . ? (Proceed heavenward)

(Shudders her bone-colored skin)

You practice injury. You comment on the thing you love.

Sometimes I hardly know what I am doing, sometimes it disappears completely.

Of course you lose the damaged forms more easily in darkness.

(Reaches his arm back)(Into the robber speech)



vii



Do you feel it when I take hold of your hand?

Hermes, they are becoming free-concordance of nerves

along the walking spine, her soft clipped leg

leaning into the freakish outline

(Sisyphus sits on his rock to listen)

(For example the snow understands the orchard as it buries it)

Do you feel it when I take hold of your hand?

(Frost burns in bits between her shoulder bones)

She would prefer it on the whole if he spoke in a whisper

(his voice dry)(does she feel it)

Something cracking there are bridges over voids-

When I take hold of your hand

(Up ahead a ray of natural optic light)

(Whose feet, whose bodies do they wear)

Hermes semaphores wildly in the dark.

Zero of the bone.

Then her wide soul squints and the thought

grafts easily onto the animal air.

---Joanna Klink

 



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