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Carolyn Gregory – Losing Orpheus

Carolyn Gregory
Losing Orpheus

Up and down the coast,
we drove hairpin turns
as orange cliffs dropped below,
blue ocean spuming waves
against black rocks.
Your blue haired daughter climbed,
unafraid to observe the vortex.
Older, we picked our way,
carefully over shale and sand.

Among weedy pools,
we walked at middle tide.
The weather changed, moody as fog developed
after a long morning of San Jose sun.

You took me to the sculpture garden.
Silently, we walked among poplars
past the elaborate Gate to Hell
and Orpheus in black marble playing his lyre.

That night, alone in my room,
I could hear a man yelling drunkenly
at his woman in the Mission,
the neighbors in the hotel talking loudly
through my wall.
Doors slammed in other rooms.

How did we lose Orpheus long ago?
His notes were sweet among spring trees
where phoebes mimicked his song.
Loss hardened us so that in time,
we grew deaf to that melody
and love disappeared like fog
along the mountain’s edge.

The ceiling fan whirred above my head.
I spread the photographs on the bed –
cliffs dropping sheer below us,
blue-haired Hypatia staring at the horizon,
your wan face saying goodbye.
If only starfish and ice flowers could tell us
the secrets of aging children.
If only Orpheus could return from the dead.

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