The nymphs quivered as your music
moved across their bodies like lost love—
that indefinable, gripping absence.
The melody coiled around them like
the snake upon Eurydice’s leg,
panicked muscle flexed against
its tightening bind, the skin
pierced, then black.
Song that subdues, soothing song
that stills the quaking core,
song that unshackles the aching restlessness.
Your song was not beautiful;
what use would beauty be to the underworld,
where it is only delusion?
Instead, you offered the gods music wrought
with the emotion of a primal scream, a shrill,
foul noise, drumbeats
of the pulsing heart, lyre of the sighing
lungs, chimes of the dream.
Song that saves, swift song
that breaks the hardest heart,
song that swells and recedes like the waves along the shore.
Of course you would look back.
The gods knew this.
If you had truly listened to your music,
you would have known
that your story was no different than anyone’s;
you would have heard
the old rhythms recycled, lamenting
over and over the same loss;
you would have realized,
as the spurned women tore you
limb from limb, that you’d been living
that moment endlessly
in every mournful note.
Song that resisted sticks, strong song
that turned stone to pebble mid-air,
song that seduced, song that spurned.
The nightingales echo that old melodious trance
over your grave, the stars strum
along your abandoned lyre,
your dismembered head still sings:
What do we lose?
What, despite everything, remains?
Anne Champion has a BA in Creative Writing and Behavioral Psychology from Western Michigan University and received her MFA in Poetry at Emerson College. She has work previously published in Minnetonka Review, PANK Magazine, The Aurorean, The Comstock Review, Poetry Quarterly, Line Zero, Thrush Poetry Journal and elsewhere. She was also a 2009 recipient of The Academy of American Poets Prize at Emerson College and was recently nominated for an Emerging Writer Grant from The St. Boltolph Foundation. She currently teaches writing and literature at Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, and Pine Manor College in Boston, MA.