“Head of Orpheus,” by Timothy Donnelly

Audio: Read by the author.


When it was time for the suffering to end, we powered down
  and sat on the steps as if waiting for a chariot
drawn by a loss for words. If only the mind were made to reflect
  the world more completely, as if we agreed to it, we would be free

of so many difficulties—the path ahead of us miraculously
  wrinkleless, cleared of fallen things. What we saw or heard or felt
would be an echo of what was, a duplicate of the present
  willow traced by the sun on the fishpond of our wakefulness.

Easier said than done! Turns out the friction
  between what’s real and my take on it might be the battery
that keeps me awake to begin with, and I hadn’t stopped to consider
  what happens when we sleep—all those fudgy distortions

and embellishments tricked in gold. This only goes to show
  how scatterbrained hope makes me, how poorly we navigate
when we don’t look back to balance what’s ahead of us
  against what’s behind—fair analogue to what’s outside us versus in.

You have less to say at this pivot point than I imagined, or maybe
  you’re just keeping it all to yourself for now, but know,
as I go on detangling these lines from the invisible, it’s always you
  I’m reaching out for, even more so now I can’t see where you’ve gone.


This is drawn from “Chariot.”

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