“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof,
shit detector.” ― Ernest Hemingway
I should have seen it coming before
you ever said it. I studied foreshadowing
in school. Taught it to my students.
All the clues were there. So obvious
now. I missed the denouement. All conclusion.
We have been living in ordinary time.
Not green days between Easter and Advent,
but gray days without color or romance.
I count the days, pray for intimacy,
want to rewind time to our spring.
Ordinary Time (Latin: Tempus per annum) is the part of the liturgical year in the liturgy of the Roman Rite between Christmastide and Lent, and between Eastertide and Advent. The liturgical color assigned to Ordinary Time is green. The last Sunday of Ordinary Time is the Solemnity of Christ the King. The “ordinary” cames from “ordinal” for the numerals that mark these weeks of the seasons of Christmastide and Eastertide starting with the 1st week of Ordinary Time in January to the 34th week that begins toward the end of November.
You said, “The self can know nothing
but its own modifications, and the self
is the only existent thing.” My attention
turned to a woman passing our bench
who momentarily pulled me out of us,
The haiku I would write for you
were illustrated with my sketches, watercolors or
Japanese prints I found in magazines or
postcards from that used bookstore that we
would browse, buy poetry, and read aloud.
I thought of you as my muse.
Eastern and yet so Western. Younger but
also older than me in some ways.
The poem you left on the bed
with an erotic print which I misinterpreted.
Your side of the bed
was still warm, then cold all morning,
afternoon, night, like the Moon
Looking at the old photo of you
taking a photo of me hasn’t faded
though we separated five hundred Moons ago.
Thinking of you with each daylily bloom.
Flowering, falling, returning anew and yet old.
Today, it feels like Odysseus’ last voyage
as I head home from the darkening woods.
Though I’ve only been gone a day,
I feel disguised like a wandering beggar
wondering how my wife will greet me.
Odysseus and the Sirens, 2nd century AD (Bardo National Museum, Tunisia)
The Telegony is a lost ancient Greek epic poem about Telegonus, son of Odysseus by Circe. His name (“born far away”) is indicative of his birth on Aeaea, far from Odysseus’ home of Ithaca. We assume that it tells the story of Odysseus’ last voyage, and of his death at the hands of Telegonus. The poem, like the others of the cycle, is “lost” in that no authentic version has been discovered.
I had been reading this past week Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses” written in 1842. This is an aging king who has seen too much of the world to be happy sitting home or on a throne. He leaves the responsibilities to his son and gathers up some old comrades “to sail beyond the sunset”.
On my actual walk home from the woods at sunset, the song “Home at Last” by Steely Dan showed up in my ears from the playlist on my phone. To me, it’s a song about Odysseus/Ulysses.
Well, the danger on the rocks is surely past.
Still, I remain tied to the mast.
Could it be that I have found my home at last?
A poster print of Tennyson’s poem