On Looking into Golding’s Ovid

Steve Scafidi Click to read more...

sscafidiSteve Scafidi, Jr.’s poetry collections are For Love of Common Words (LSU, 2006), Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer (LSU, 2001), which won the Larry Levis Reading Prize, The Cabinet Maker’s Window and To the Bramble and the Briar.  His poem “The Egg Suckers” was the winner of Shenandoah’s 2005 Boatwright Prize. He is a cabinetmaker and lives with his family in Summit Point, West Virginia. “On First Looking into Golding’s Ovid” first appeared in Shenandoah 51/1.

It’s still the same – he turns, she turns – the end
of a candle burns, maybe, in the eye socket
of a severed head. It’s still the same wedding
guests who fill these straw canoes, who float
down river swinging their lamps and calling
out for the groom. Orpheus is mostly soil
splashing onto soil where maenads squat.

Maybe a shepherd found a head and carved
the wet face from the white bone and now
dreams some strange version – a candle
glowing in his little room – of an early home.
It’s still the same. Eurydice is cold or alone.
Or both. What if she ran ahead, long ago,
and overtook that man she loved, on the path.

What if she brushed quietly past him, and then
she looked back? I’m tired of stories of the asp,
and the wish of little wings where a god turns.
It’s still the same. Every night, those revelers
calling from the water. I’d like to believe she
found a way out of the earth one night and then
reversed al that had happened – I’d like to believe

she is wearing a wool shirt with tiny white buttons
along the arms, and that we have four children
who never visit and we eat long ornate meals
together in perfect happiness and everything
we ever wanted is ours for the asking and that
she would please quiet those strangers on the river.
It’s still the same – he turns, she turns – story that burns.

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