by Robert Kelly
[Eurydice, naked, in leaf shadow, half – hidden in bushes, lilac, springtime, sunset, warm. She speaks.]
I have been talking all the while
but so few listened, so few
I wondered if the sound that was me
actually was coming out of my mouth
into the ordinary world, but he
was listening, he has ears,
er hat Ohren as they say by the lake,
Ohren – fer, ear – carrier, Orpheus.
I know the words are all wrong
or so the scholars say,
those style – conscious debutantes,
those linguists who suppose
words mean what the ballroom
chooses to understand.
No, words mean what they mean
on their way through us,
one person at a time. One me
is all a word needs,
to listen to itself in me
because I am always talking,
and the words, the dear words,
listen close until they come
to mean what I mean.
And he too was listening.
Always listening until he stopped.
When he wanted to look at me
instead. Words have no instead,
they are themselves the endpoint,
the kairos, the harvest time.
He should have known my shape,
the graceful habiliments of my mode,
my pantherine gait, my dreamy drift,
he should have known all those
from just hearing me. The god knows
he wrote them all down often enough —
too often, if you heed his critics,
always bitching about the woman
in his work, the lustful tenderness,
the ooze of feeling licking at last
against the marble of my distant meat —
all the rhetoric they laugh at
until he got angry at me
for making him feel those words
inside him rushing to the world.
He was angry with me for making him
speak. And then I died.
Then he had nothing to say.
He looked back at me — he wanted to see.
Was I just a mirror to his mind
he needed to check his inner vision
by turning back to me ?
What did he expect to see ?
Did I wear the silken rags of hell
lascivious, alluring ?
There is no hell
but to be forgotten.
How many times did I have to die ?
A snake, burial among the shades,
uphill march, mute anabasis
because I had to keep silent
as we climbed, ten paces behind him
I walked, like a Greek priest and his wife,
and then he doubted at my silence,
spun round and killed me with a glance.
Or hell was the house where I waited
for you. Always for you,
I was a sentence that could not be spoken
all the way to the end
until you came. Then you came
and I could leave that house.
You came, you saw,
and that was the end of us.
Nobody knows where I went
when you looked back over your shoulder.
We went into the senses and were lost,
the senses are distances, are doubts,
Dogs, demons, dancing girls,
the senses are broken temples,
sandstorms, the senses are lies,
lost children, fire burning under the sea.