The dirt track has been pounded by the sun
for these four months of drought.
No horse would run here but the horse would run
in barren laps of thought
as, in my long anger, my thoughts have done,
rounding the curve on old injustices
down the straightaway of revenge,
raising dust while the music of cicadas
screams like a rusty hinge,
rises and fades away and again rises
(reminding me of what Socrates said
about those so thrilled by song
that they forgot to eat and drink, and died
without even knowing,
and became cicadas): rises like the hard
voices of the couple who have come here
to play out their last act,
heedless and bickering in the noontime glare
beside leering herms and cracked
small-bellied terracotta vases, but are
just actors off-book, running lines. Soon they
are resting beneath the ilex,
drinking cool water, laughing quietly
at the violence of their text,
and then resume. I cannot find a way
out of the desolation of this oval,
though, and its dying palms.
I cannot find the myth, the shadowed stable,
the muses, the bit that calms.
I cannot make myself amiable.