American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Poetry

Greg Rappleye

Orpheus, Gathering the Trees

       The Metamorphoses of Ovid, Book X, Lines 86-110

When love died the second time,
he sang at dawn in the empty field
and the bees came to listen.
A little song for the tag alder,
the rue cherry the withe-willow—
the simple-hearted ones that come quickly
to loneliness.
Then he sang for the mulberry
with its purple fruit,
for the cedar and the tamarack.
He sang bel canto for the quaking aspen
and the stave oak;
something lovely for the white pine,
the fever tree, the black ash.
From the air, he called the sparrows
and the varieties of wrens.
Then he sang for a bit of pestilence—
for the green caterpillars,
for the leaf worms and bark beetles.
Food to suit the flickers and the crows.
So that, in the wood lot,
there would always be empty places.
So he would still know loss.

Greg Rappleye, Tropical Landscape with Ten Hummingbirds. (Dos Madres Press, October 22, 2018)

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