It has been almost three weeks since he died–no, since he was deified.
He is not here, but it is difficult to get used to the idea
that though his body is not present, his soul persists elsewhere,
and his power is yet upon the earth.
A sign in the heavens would be useful to confirm it as such,
rather than the words of flatterers or the fancies of philosophers.
The last scion of Seleucus and Ptolemy
is a woman who writes in Sappho’s dialect,
and carries on during dinners and in the shade
of an Egyptian afternoon when anyone sane
would prefer to be dozing on a cool balcony.
Still, her poetry is pleasing, and her company
even more pleasing to my wife.
Sabina insisted we come to this wreck of a place,
where a statue would sing for us at dawn.
It has sung for Syrian camel herders,
for Cyrenean shoemakers, Nubian galley slaves,
Egyptian shit-mongers, and Judean mercenaries;
but, the sovereign of three continents
does not enjoy a single note from it.
Achilleus had no such monument, but an Ethiopian
slain by his hand has an enduring reminder in stone,
faceless and broken, but known to all for ages.
It has sat for fourteen centuries since Memnon’s death.
I have waited an entire day for it to sing its song.
Until the last tear is wrenched from my eyes,
until the last spit has dried on my tongue,
until the last drop of blood has turned to dust in my veins,
until my very bones become stones harder than these,
I can wait, and wait, and wait…
Even the gods cannot move me from where I stand:
I have come to hear a statue sing,
and if even these mute stones can utter words
then perhaps there is hope for men and for gods,
and especially for gods who used to be men
cut down too soon by jealous holy rivers.