The Marriage of Orpheus

The Marriage of Orpheus

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Something brushed my cheek with damp–
a leaf, its little valley slick with run-off

after rain. One last drop shook loose
and struck a spider web, which shuddered

but held on to this grieving world
so a butterfly–a mourning cloak?–

could uncoil its watch-spring of a tongue
in the time it took a limousine to stretch

down the thin twig of street, almost to my door.
A long albino snake gone straight,

tied with a big white bow–O pet,
you’re not mine. You belong a few doors down–

see, here comes a man in gold morning coat,
carrying pale pink roses like a lute.

He leaned inside the low dark cave
of a car to kiss someone I never saw,

who straightened his pale pink cravat.
Orpheus, would love turn back while it can?

Around the corner a nurse in white
stood at an open door, lifting her long white arm

gently to bar the way of an old woman
bundled in hat and coat, though it was August.

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