You weren’t so quick to turn when my hand left yours
In our flight from Aristaeus—
Felled, on all fours,
The viper‘s teeth, the thrumming of bees in fuss–
I had one foot in the black water of the Styx
When you reached my side—
Nothing your lyre could fix,
Though still you strummed and sang to your dying bride—
Your sorrow sweeter than the sweep-hardening of frost,
Sweeter than the sweetening of fruit
In summer, which falls and rots,
And I fell, fell such a long way to Hades’, that brute.
Now I’ve nothing but misery to harvest.
Sorrow’s an impatient thing,
A hard thing to harness,
And when sung too long it begins to reach and wring.
Look how the waters of Lethe reach for me,
How it wants, swift river,
To wring my memories.
I want what it wants, and know it will deliver.
Yes, I’ve come to its bank as you came for me, singing,
Head swung in leisure
Like an apple clinging
To its twisted stem, the sun’s bright pleasure.
It’s so very dark down here in the wet,
But no darker than that throne
Of oak where first we met,
No darker than marrow swallowed by throat of bone.
Much darker is my heart, my final memory of you.
So I’ll drink my belly tight
And forget the corkscrew
Of your neck, struck golden in living light.
BIO: Ariel Machell is a poet from California. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Oregon. Her work has been published in Gravel, Verdad, Landlocked and Up the Staircase Quarterly.