Orpheus

By A. F. Moritz b. 1947
He glanced around to check if the treacherous gods
had really given him the reward promised for his accomplished song
and there she was, Eurydice restored, perfectly naked and fleshed
in her rhyming body again, the upper and lower smiles and eyes,
the line of mouth-sternum-navel-cleft, the chime of breasts and hips
and of the two knees, the feet, the toes, and that expression
of an unimaginable intelligence that yoked all these with a skill
she herself had forgotten the learning of: there she was, with him
                  once more
just for an instant as she vanished. And then he heard her from
                  behind
the invisible veil, absence: a shrill and batlike but lexical indictment.
Why had he violated the divine command, why, when he had seized
all song to himself and robbed her of power to open her own
                  oblivion?
It grew in volume and now seemed to spew from an insane old
                  mother with one breast
hanging like a huge withered testicle from a rent in her weathered
                  gown,
who was being watched by a tall woman, copper-helmet-coiffed,
                  richly suited in salmon colour,
a mythical allusion, since salmon were long extinct in the bays and
                rivers here:
songs never brought them anymore. The young restrained breasts
                and the old free one
oppressed him equally and he went to live among men, waiting for
                the crazy
and the competent to join forces and come for him with their
                  scissors.
Orpheus listened patiently to my poem and when it quieted he said
                  to me:
That wasn't it at all. I sang outward from my face to blue spaces
                  between clouds,
to fern fronds, and men and women sipped my song as you drink
                   from a stream going by.
What I sang is lost in time, you don't kmow what it was, all you have
                  is your own
old stories about me. And if women tore me into pieces, maybe that
                  only signifies
each one keeps part of my body, which is melody among visible
                  things.

Albert Frank Moritz, "Orpheus" from Conflicting Desire. Copyright © 2000 by Albert Frank Moritz.  Reprinted by permission of Ekstasis Editions.

Source: Conflicting Desire (Ekstasis Editions, 2000)

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Poet A. F. Moritz b. 1947

POET’S REGION Canada

Subjects Mythology & Folklore, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Nature, Poetry & Poets, The Body, Heroes & Patriotism, Love, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Music, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Simile

 A. F. Moritz

Biography

A.F. Moritz (Albert F. Moritz) is the author of more than 15 books of poetry; he has received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Relit Award (for Night Street Repairs, named the best book of poetry published in Canada in 2005), an Ingram Merrill Fellowship, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. A Canadian citizen, Moritz was born in Ohio and moved to Canada in . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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