[A]nd ignorant of what it is he looks at,
he burns for what he sees there all the same,
aroused by the illusion that deceives him.
The spark I kindle
is the torch I carry: whatever can I do?
Am I the favor-seeker, or the favor sought?
Death is the difference between
metamorphosis and metempsychosis,
Pythagoras, by way of Ovid, taught us
this, that the spirit never changes, except
the shape it inhabits, a shell
the soul escapes only after
it perishes, a listless crack of whiplash
lightning dividing like a cell those darkness
imprisons, peelings of pardoned flesh shedding
poisonous former versions of
our Selves we have outgrown, wringing
from our grasp what vicious toll fills wells until
the blistering fever of this thirst seeks to
know, and wisdom bubbles up from the floods of
our seasonal and personal
hells, claws floorboards of consciousness,
loosening morals and dogma in the scarred
uproar of a warring thing transitioning
from a thought into an object, a verb to
whose action this translation of
a concept into a living
conviction is subject, language does some of
it, but so much more, almost all of its work,
in fact, is accomplished by the torture we
endure simply by performing
who we are, or all were, always
becoming what we at once admire, desire
then, eventually, abhor, the cost to
belong to what has already been lost, to
give speech freely to that which has
no language, this is the job of
the poet, envious angel of the sweet,
sweet hereafter whose lust-splattered question of
laughter shatters, marks up without answer or
apology, batters the heart
of the matter, fame now informs
us of other bothers confrontational
as a mirror, worries worthier of our
fugitive trust and focus, then it appears:
the face of Narcissus in tears.
1Ovid, “Narcissus” in “Book III: The Wrath of Juno”, [Lines 555–557], of Metamorphoses: Translated and with Notes by Charles Martin: Introduction by Bernard Knox, published at New York by W. W. Norton & Company in 2005; page 107.
2Ibid., [Lines 601–603]; page 109.