Eurydice in Darkness

BY PETER DAVISON
Here far underground I can hear the trees
Still moving overhead where he, the poet,
Mourns. Let him stir stumps if he chooses.
Soon enough he’ll sing his courage up
To penetrate the earth, clinging to that lyre
As though the world depended on it, and unstring
One after the other of my familiars,
(The three-headed lapdog, the boatman at the river,
The gaggle of furies, my Undertaker himself)
With instrument still twangling from the effort.
His fingers will be raw, but I’ll be waiting
Dressed to kill and ready with a plan
He’ll find acceptable. He’ll turn his back
(Its every flabby muscle I have pinched
A thousand times) and clump along the tunnel,
Dead certain I shall follow him to sunlight.
And so I shall—murmuring at times,
Whining that he walks too fast, complaining
That he might at least give me a look
After such absence, brushing my breasts against him.
Not till the sunlight seeps in overhead
Will I tax him: a man and not a poet
Would have kept the country free of snakes
And left off that everlasting mooning and fiddling.
He could have prevented all this! And he might, please,
Give me a hand here, I’ll fall with these sandals.
That’s it! He turns from the light, his face engorged
With pity and self-pity. He thrusts out his hand,
And I shall dance away, my laughter dancing
Before me every mile of the way back home.