by C.K. Williams
Philemon: “O darling I must ask
why all these tears?”
Baucis: “O nothing darling, nothing,
simply the accumulation of so many years.”
P: It is true
we grow gnarled. The marble
has fallen into disrepair. It lays in broken clumps
and weeds push up in the evening.
B: “Yes. Rings expand year by year from our trunks.”
P: I remember us poor and
eating beans and radishes,
eggs cooked over a small fire in the hovel near the outskirts of town,
surviving by bread which
was mostly crust. Our roof was
made of dry reeds that whistled in
the nightwind fleecing down
the Phrygian hills.”
Zeus: “Raising you two from the privations of the poor,
Still you let pass the past through memory’s door!”
B: (to Philemon) “Our skin is wrinkled
Over us so rough. It is dry
And rustles like beetle legs.”
P: “We have been here so many years
Silent as oak and linden.
Many peoples have sat with us
In the shade, eating grapes and seedcakes from Crete,
Bread dipped in olive oil.”
B: “We have been weathered by the sea
Far distant over hills; the
Brine comes over the rocks and parches our throats.”
P: “Yes, we are always thirsty, but
Are we not entwined?
Our limbs so different and flimsy still clasp.
That is not so bad.”
Zeus: Day after dust, dust after day,
The sun shall beat not less.
Though moisture comes, you’ll be but clay,
No more hold hope for best.