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Our own gods

(after Marguerite Yourcenar’s “Memoirs of     Hadrian”)

Each of us is dedicated
   to our own gods
and in the course of this brief life will choose
   between an endless striving
   and a wise resignation
between the delights of disorder and order
I have never belonged wholly to one place
When Dad died I was 12 and
   plunged into grief, seeing only for years
   this chaotic house,
   a mother’s tears
   and my terror
But what happened to you, girl, that you
   grew up weak, selfish and mean?
Whole nations have perished for want
   of generosity...
What the hell happened to you?
The iron gray sky
   is indifferent to our wants and joys alike
Dedicated to her own gods
   she grew frail without ceasing to be hard
Life’s atrocious sometimes, as we all know
   and the mediocre will always outnumber the wise
   and at least one fool
   will reign over us per century
Still, I didn’t love her less
   I loved her more
but the weight of that love
   like a gentle tender arm around her shoulders
became too heavy to bear

If endless servitude ever ends
   and unnecessary misfortune ever ends
   there will still be these horrors:
      death, old age, incurable sickness
      love unrequited and friendships betrayed
      the mediocrity of a life less vast
      than our projects, far
      duller than our dreams
Why are we afraid of ghosts
   when we are so ready to speak with the dead
   when we welcome them back in our hearts?
My true lovers have left me more than I them
   for I have never understood how
   one can ever have enough of true love

-July 27, 2007-