Hayden Saunier remembers a beloved friend in this Greek tragedy of a poem.
Elegy for a One-Man Greek Chorus
Eight shows a week, inside the dry dirt circle
of the world of Thebes, he tore his shirt,
dropped to his knees, clawed up the earth
and let it hard rain down into his eyes, into
his keening mouth. Eight shows a week he delivered
news of fresh calamity, the not-so-news of how
we cannot know what lies before us, fated
to our human knack for spooning poison down
our children’s parched and ready mouths.
I watched, off-stage, understudy to all women:
goddess, peasant, queen. Mondays were dark.
He’d meet me after my weekly rape survivors group
to drink from icy pools of vodka laced with acid
twists until we both felt numb enough to be alive.
He’d walk me to my door, go home. I never
thanked him. Ingratitude turns out to be
among our human talents, too. When chest pains
struck him doing sixty on a busy highway
driving home— he’d long since found a wife,
and steady work, some happiness, at last—
I was not surprised to hear he’d steered his car
away from traffic into a grove of trees,
done in by that tremendous heart, that to the end,
surveyed the scene and exited alone.
Originally published in Say Luck (Big Pencil Press 2013)
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