Edward Hirsch  

Edward Hirsch

Self-Portrait as Eurydice

How I dreamt about your engulfing arms,
my Orphic secret, my haunting primal chant,
from my place amid the phantom forms

and waited for you to startle the grave
path into the underworld—dank, silent—
where I shivered in the night's embrace

until I heard your fatal cry, your fate-
ful voice rising like a forgotten dream
or a wandering soul calling for light

in eternity's dense fog, and eager song,
and I followed it toward the earth's seam
hoping to breathe again, listening,

until you whirled around, my dark flame,
and then I died for you a second time.

Self-Portrait as Eurydice, II

I shivered in the damp cellar of sleep
on a reckless, swollen, rain-soaked night
that I could neither defer nor escape

and woke up to the harsh sound of light-
ning flashing over the stricken houses
and a lone car prowling the street

like a reproach rising from the darkness
or the sudden dream of being saved
by this wounded desire, a madness

who wound through mazes of the damned
and navigated Hell to find me mired
in the last catastrophe I'd suffered,

but then panicked and turned, my beloved,
and left me floundering among the dead.

Self-Portrat as Eurydice, III

Some part of me was already dead
to the world, languishing in darkness
by the time, angel, you breasted the void

and coaxed your way into the motherless
infernal realm where I had waited
without knowing it, in mute hopelessness,

and so I rejoiced to feel my blood
stirring again, and to touch your hand,
and to follow you through worm-eaten ground

to the brightly lit air of the beloved,
a country bountiful and sensuous
where we would always be embodied,

but then you faltered—my flesh, my faithless
love—and betrayed me to the emptiness.

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