Lying against the sky with a grass stalk to be sucked,
In summer dusk twilight and the midges, mosquitos taking over from bees and flies,
And maybe, glimmering in the valley, a city of fireflies…
The eighth crevasse was everywhere aglow,
Dazzling the sight – as was Elisha’s, when Elijah was taken up to heaven
In a fiery chariot, and he tried to follow the path of his mentor –
Flames running in the gullies, a hidden sinner in every one.
I peered over, leaning out from the bridge,
Making sure I held onto a projecting crag of rock,
Virgil, when he saw me so intent:
—The spirits stand inside their flames, each one,
So wrapped by burning in that in which he burns.
I had already figured it out,
Growing, or just better attuned to the environment
—I was just going to ask you who that was there,
There, see, the bigger flame, that’s split into two, over there.
Like the weirdness, or sympathy, or hatred, of twins
—That is Ulysses and Diomedes.
They are paired in God’s revenge
Because they earned his wrath together.
In their flame, they repent their various stratagems
That seemed so clever at the time.
For the Wooden Horse, of course,
For the trick that took Achilles away from Deidamìa,
Which desolated that decent, if a bit misguided, woman,
And amends for thieving the Palladium from Troy.
—If they can speak from inside the flames,
I’d be very keen to hear what they have to say,
Let’s stop here and wait for them to reach us.
And he to me:
—Fine, but leave the talking to me,
I know what you want to find out, so let me try,
They were Greeks, and might not be so keen to talk to you,
Since you’ve always represented yourself as a Troyan.