Dear forgive me, for I love us
deeply, but reading Herodotus
lately I’ve all these notions of love
in the gown of mythology.
You are the queen of Lydia,
brown daughter of the Hermus
whose blue-green elbow
kisses your kingdom at Sardis—
No⸺this won’t make any sense—
What’s the use of all this metaphor?
Plenty of people are richer than Croesus,
lucky as Polycrates, wise as Solon,
mad as whatever madness was Xerxes’
whiplashing waters of the Hellespont,
a pair of fetters for the turbid strait—
let richness be its own measure
of what is rich, and hate its own hate—
But maybe there are only ideas in stories,
only the storied cities of stories
where we may traffic thoroughfares
and build up our dwellings with deeds.
History is no older than its telling.
Love is only the story of love.
Two years I’ve been without you—
I am Gyges glimpsing your sublimity
in the narrow band of door light,
devoutly faithless—ambition has no grip
nor lust for wealth or kingly power over me.
Nothing Archilochus says is true.
I am Gyges crept up with dagger
upon my old self, sleeping Kandaules,
only for the sight of you.