knowing him, Orpheus, and knowing
how these melodies would tumble from his fingers,
explode, how he could not censor grief,
storm-chased love and foolish haste alike,
knowing all of this:
the conditions were unfair.
the charade swelled, sweltered hellish underground,
his sugared flowers, flowered notes were singed
by glaring torches, sickened souls, and
the master of it all, old Hades, old crumbling
rotten Hades, whose charity is rented always at
and knowing that
the devil only grants the second chance that will
asphyxiate itself with folly,
with love for maidens, maidens’ eager feet,
with that disappearing touch that bursts feverish
the journey down was a mistake.
trust has no home in hell, wanders faceless,
shrivels sin-drenched to a scarlet prune. but
at night he beds his lyre, half-dreaming of
snakes or sleepless, strumming lullabies,
lessons learned too late.
of course Hades let him go. of course he knew
he would look back.