marriage of ruin foretold

Detail from Paris and Helen by Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825)

Marriage of ruin foretold The couple on everyone’s lips, Paris and Eleni, a reconstruction based on what someone, who worked in the very cafe, told me they claimed to have heard, and what the talking bird saw from its cage and still playing out in its eye         first meeting in the Cafe ‘Sparta’   never a dark warmer a sorrow under your eyes   i offer them only a smiling        emptiness   expect flame upon me.         second meeting   drinking coffee with you from each other’s cup, the other diners not even in our eye, as if we cared...   the sharp taste of your eyes   shying away in laughter   at my mean      grasp.   i’ll kill us both this way.         third meeting   body shapes body i know   i believe an inner shape where all your    dark rests   harder to touch   afraid reaching it   lest it turn me back         meeting outside the closed cafe   in the strangeness   pleasure climbing like neon   or falling  like   stairs thrown out of light   you held to yourself   now show me your mirror under the skin risk me punching it            through with a silver handled blade its globe in an eagle’s claw   myself more       violent since you forced  me show an empty hand   i’d counted my heart.         walking the river   everything you were born to has waned to a few points in mind compass turns of the      heart unresting   this city waxes over you   overshadows every imagining of any other life      but its own.   this city rising turns the heart’s sunk light back on itself.   your husband’s brother a murderer if ever i saw one would slaughter the doe of his own hearth would burn a city down like a wasps nest coated in pitch   leave this poisoned house these walls built with the bones of mountains         morning ride in the end it comes down to me   all your dark the edge of you are worn away where i consume myself   i reach on to you an inkling of you in my direction.       eighth meeting i ask you never to let any man tell you how you are   he’ll tell you how he hopes you are   you’ll belong to him whom you believe       last meeting before departure   i must give you back into your own life   whether i took you somehow or other into mine i don’t know   the feeling i need is to give you       back.   touches words i wished apt as touches weren’t enough to tie us   was it the priest of Apollo sun-crazed as an elm in summer who told me there are things given that must not be accepted, even what was won, must be refused           abduction   to see you laugh like this, worth everything i’m heir to, and they will say how i carried you off when it was you who clung to me in the guise of a beggar,   run,   run like the hare into my sweet trap   you jealous gift           the wedding Paris addresses Eleni, now first among Trojan women* * ‘The Trojan women are renowned for their dark hair.  Originally it is said they were fair headed, and that the darkness of their hair came from the oils they plied their washed hair with, which turned darkest black as they dried it in the warm shade of their mighty city walls’ From the journals of Stravos of Psemia                                                          Eleni to her groom   your   blood pure    from the time       of the walls   hair pure dark    from afternoons your women dried their tangled hair and combed its length   afternoons long siestas they spent talking of games        of flesh      when the wall      was footed      in night   none could claim you, my husband           Paris to his bride i believe your heart   your hair grown pure from the same dark root a night sky over dry ground as far as the sea that trades winds and empires rain sparking      over neon your touch   fate surely tripled what i was promised in you, a rainbow’s diadem on storm the city struck in gold          tokyo      1993      revised 2020     Copyright ©2020 Peter Le Baige.  All Rights Reserved  

The music is from a composition, ‘The Sack of Troy’ by Michael Levy, available on Youtube. Michael writes that it was composed for playing on a replica of an ancient Greek ‘kithara’, (the large wooden lyre once played by the professional musicians of ancient Greece) and in the favourite mode of Plato himself, the Dorian. Michael’s intention was to evoke the sort of ancient Greek ‘paean’ style melody (a hymn of thanksgiving) to which the lost epic of ancient Greece, ‘The Sack of Troy’ (Ἰλίου πέρσις, Iliou persis, “Sack of Ilium) could have been recited.

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