Today's poem is by Heidi Blitch

from Threnody
     ...you, Hebrus, gathered in his head and lyre...
               —Ovid, Metamorphoses, XI

I. Song

O Orpheus, your head and lyre adrift
upon the river Hebrus, your lifeless tongue
still mellifluous although bereft
of breath: the waters stroke your harp's strings
and vocal chords alike, surrogate lung
allowing you to carry on your craft.

Just so, you rowed your mournful raft
of song until the current stranded you along
the coast of Lesbos, where the poets quaffed
your plaintive threnody like too-strong
undiluted wine.

A lovely myth, but Ovid got it wrong —
usually it's not the head that's found;
usually it's the other way around.)

Copyright © 2004 Heidi Blitch All rights reserved
from Quarterly West
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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