Monday, March 9, 2020

Lament (a new sestina)

For Fr. O'Connor

I am Dido, standing on rocks to remember,
knowing that I will not see him.
He didn’t want to burden me,
but it was a good thing to be trusted by one
who belonged more to heaven than
to the earth.

Somehow, his was the element of earth;
unmoveable, that is how I always will remember
him. Shrouded in skin, but more and greater than –
I could always depend on him;
he would be where I left him, nothing and no one
would take him away from me.

But twice death took him away from me,
once while he still walked upon the earth.
I did not expect the second, truer one,
for he went off, far, like a dying wolf. I remember
the moment – he lay still in simple clothes – I saw him,
his face still in cold slumber, unreachable, but more welcome than

that of anyone living. I think I loved him more than
anyone, and that may have to be enough for me.
I loved him, I love him, I will love him
until I am laid in the earth
near him, even with no one left to remember
that of great loves, here lie the bones of the truest one.

I walked to his house one
day when I was young, rather than
going straight home. I want remember
the way it creaked and smelled, and the questions he asked me.
What will you do with your time on this earth?
I answered, write, but I will write – forever – only of him.

Once the whole world turned against him
and I felt like the only one
on earth –
it would have been easier to die than
betray him who was god and love to me.
And he would remember.

Someone gave me bad advice, but I wrote to him
while he was still on earth. I wrote carefully, rather than
Dutiful Aeneas, your Dido longs for you. Remember me.

– Charlotte Victoria (2020)

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