IV Kal. Nov.
In mourning, I have sheared off every lock of my scalp’s hair.
None but my fellows notice, and I have not said why, nor have they asked.
Like everyone else, I am tasked with keeping both eyes on the river.
I have an allotment of it to watch exclusively.
Along the shore, there are four kinds of plant.
Papyrus reeds are not quiet in the winds on this day.
They will be collected, unrolled, dried, pressed together,
and upon them, words of consolation for the Emperor
will no doubt be written by those with greater art than I.
If Vitalis were still among the living, he would write such words.
There are blue lotuses, which the locals here say
can be made into an unguent that soothes the sleepless,
that lulls the eyes into states of vision.
But I think they are blue, like the night’s sky, with tears.
The Emperor is the Pharaoh of the Blue Lotuses today.
There are white lotuses, which are gentle to the touch,
but even on a day like today, the sun’s rays upon them
blind one’s sight with their whiteness, like too-fiery stars.
They are beautiful even in their severity.
The Empress is the Queen of the White Lotuses today.
There are red lotuses, far fewer in number than the others,
but striking for their rarity, their hue less heavy than blood,
more like the blush on the pale cheeks of a young lover.
They remind me of everyone beautiful I have ever seen.
The missing boy Antinous is the Hero of the Red Lotus today and forever.