The Cleaving

by Samuel Hazo

Imagining my wife dead, I am stopped,
stilled, halved and driven singly back to fears
too real for loneliness alone to name.
Then, nothing. Slowly intimidations shame

me back and up from hell like Orpheus,
saying it was not time, it was not time
to leave her rouged and coffined for the dead
still left alive to see. I learn instead

that death in dreams or out of dreams is loss
enough to stun my waking like a wheel
left spun and spinning from an accident.
But while I wonder what it means or meant,

I think of Orpheus who charmed the king
of hell and calmed the tortures of the damned
with songs just long enough to find his wife
again and lead her by the hand to life

until he lost her twice. What lover mocks
the lot of Orpheus who dared the gods
and bearded them for someone else’s sake?
With nothing but a dead girl’s life at stake

he sang her to the stars before he faltered,
panicked and let her go. The myth survives.
The fear of loss is every lover’s hell.
Remember Orpheus and how he fell.

Last updated January 09, 2015