The Attraction of Diminishing Returns
suspected he had a broken bone.
Sisyphus, suspicious that his heart,
The act he could not accomplish —
best not say
the way to his heart had a bend in it now
he'd look through to life
with refracted eyes, cracked
by the heavy blessings of the last two minutes
and a belief
that survival is straight.
A man becomes a fly
when his eye
a mosaic of tiles,
(cracked pepper, black fraction of a grip, corn-
ea divided by a single need for sustenance,
traction on soft white, get a gaze, graze this)
adopts the search for a one,
loses perspective and all the fifteenth century since then.
His story repeats itself.
In shock, he circles the block.
Goodbye. An eye for candlelight.
Looking for the disappearing point.
Finding only one thing, he pushed it.
2. Merope, immortally a sister
A woman in love.
"He's immortal, now.
He's made a name."
The woman with tears but no pity,
who only knows suffering from winter air
and seeks ways.
She finds comfort in colors
and takes a northern blue despair
not to cheer it, but to breathe out its steam
on the window, where she may draw
what she knows; consider the glass
its threat of breaking under the weight of variables
before the formula saturates again.
Humid air occludes unchosen Whens.
She never puts pictures away. These are clues,
but all are disconnected by their season of disuse.
I will say this,
you will what? his voice a mousetrap
Don't distract me, I have a point to make
say. Ess A. It's a try.
Merope waited for days.
His eyes were on the rock, only.
She thought have I come all this way to be ignored? Yes, okay.
He got to the top of the mountain and brushed his hands
on the pockets of his jeans.
Hi, Merope, so casual; head already aiming for the bottom of the slope,
4. I know.
From something, a memory of algae
and Merope, and the tide.
Tactile hypothermia, can't feel or find.
This is the longest day.
Beer? The end? Brew. Brand.
A word needs no stomach to land in.
Jupiter plucks at Pluto through his blankets,
on his couch. Gods dream of having edges. Dream of skin.
Made at the mercy of whim and vision, they grope for dark
while night lasts, study absence, an eternal room.
Change the decor. Colors race by in durable lobby weave.
have a memory of eyes that promised company.
I have made him fear his hands.
Left me for a rock,
but rescued me from
seasides under glass.
Now, I look at the back of a man
and know his plans for eternity.
I'm pale, for a goddess,
nobody likes me up here.
I haven't the complexion for pining.
Can't listen to the wind.
I think I smell the sweat of Sisyphus.
He is in my nostrils and won't leave.
I hide in the kitchen and wash dishes.
For three hours every day, I walk
in an illusory Away.
I can see your back,
in all of this.
Your body keeps a record of repetition.
I look at you and see yesterday.
I throw myself at you, a stone.
You didn't imagine it.
Audrey Freudenberg has a degree in theater studies from Yale University and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Montana. She lives in Seattle.
Originally published in the February/March 2002 issue of Boston Review