Odilon Redon, “Orpheus,”
“It has been said that the myth is a public dream, dreams are private myths.”
–Mary Zimmermann, Metamorphoses
Busking, I play my guitar
mostly by day,
sometimes under the stars
(their music lovelier than ours).
My songs are stunning, striking riffs,
god-blessed, my parents’ gift
to shift a mood–
when I sing my songs
the birds and trees dance along,
while men and women weep
and want to sweep
away the night,
keeping love alight.
And so, on this I survived
till my own love came to me.
In my joy, my music soared
as if on Pegasus-winged chords–
and I dreamt all manner of lovely things.
We married, and then one day
she journeyed far by urban subway,
vanishing deep underground
where she would not be found.
I wandered for days and night
far below the banks and stores,
strumming the strings while I walked
until a fellow said, “Come, we’ll talk.”
He said a bloke as talented as me
shouldn’t be without his love, his muse–
but, well, let’s see what she’ll choose.
On the appointed day,
I stood beneath the street
(where she had agreed to meet).
She told me that with me
she had been in love,
but she was tired—sick of
living on song and air,
really it wasn’t fair,
it was no life–
she was dying as my wife.
So, she went down the stairs–
found work with City Transportation–
for her, a cause for celebration.
“Now, I’ve made my declaration. Go,” she said.
“Don’t look back, pretend I’m dead.”
You, of course, know the tale
I looked, I failed my darling wife
who’s disappeared behind a veil
of mystery and confusing trails.
I still hope that she’ll return.
Till then, I yearn,
I ride the subway cars,
looking for her, undeterred,
I find her face among the stars,
go out to sing about our story,
(now the most popular
in my repertory).
Then people sigh and cry
while I strum and sing,
and wonder why.
The prompt for Day 24 of NaPoWriMo is write a poem inspired by a reference book. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says Orpheus had “superhuman musical skills.” He was said to be the son of the Muse Calliope (poetry) and Apollo, who also had musical skills, and who gave him his first lyre. His “singing and playing were so beautiful that animals and even trees and rocks moved about him in dance.”
On dVerse, Anmol has asked us to reimagine a myth. I really wanted to use this painting that I saw on Jane Dougherty’s post the other day.