ORPHEUS IN EXTREMIS

He turned his back on the graveyard
and with the sad songs
he had taken down
into the stiff clay of the underworld
like root-fingers
still singing in his ears,
walked towards the future.

Before him floated
her death mask,
warmed by the pale fire
of yesterday’s desire.

Fire cools
and the image
faded to a fine gauze.
The gauze dissolved into sunlight
and was gone.

The fountain of his music
dried up
into silence.

He saw nothingness before him.
He heard echoes
of empty space
all around him.
He could not sing his songs alone.

He doubted
and, at the great iron gates
of the Villa Rosa,
stopped
and turned.

Instantly,
the shadow behind him
was swallowed up
in the haze.
The weight
and burden of his body
struggled with the weight
and burden of his mind
as he stared back into the evening.
Then, his purpose lost, he meandered
back along a stream of  being
towards that quiet
and uncommunicative grave.

Beyond the Villa gates,
by the fountain, in the garden of Proserpine,
the late afternoon shadows
touched the girl.
She stretched her sun-warmed limbs
and woke from her reverie,
the fragments falling  from her
as she reached out to restrain them
with the fingers of her mind.

She looked around
and, finding herself alone,
sighed,
and, with a smile of forgetfulness,
rose and walked
with quickening steps
towards the sounds of evening
beckoning
from the town.

.

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