The Athenians enjoyed
The strategic luxury of the acropolis.
Likely not by chance –
But by design they huddled
The heart of ancient leadership about
One tremendous stone.
Crowned with their temple,
The daily penance was
Up a mighty slope which I presume
Tested the fortitude of the pious,
And children’s courage,
Among the other things.
As an economist, I worry myself
Often with spillovers:
The unseen consequence on the other –
The unplanned and,
This “other thing” that Athens –
In a singular wisdom capable of:
And provisions for the good of all people
(Which liberal time has hurriedly expanded) –
May well have deliberately summoned
In building their great hearth of stone,
I found in you.
As a short man, I
Grew shamefully cordial with
Widener’s height and age.
By my third year library was a common noun,
And I feared I might scale its columns that
By then to me were foliage
As shrubs, or trees.
Our greatest secret here and
Yes, the weakness too, is that
When nothing is out of reach,
No majesty persists.
Who is God to fear but his own image?
I like to think Athens wished
To look up each day, as I did
On the one where we met,
Where I was struck down by
Your pitfall eyes, reductive to
Men like me at any angle,
But head on and wide open
The oubliette swallows whole.
I am sure Socrates knew too how
The consequential sight
Can wind you edge-bound,
Tumbling heart over head
Listless into the void.
Inevitably all concerns but hers fall away:
Enduring romance of the obliteration of the soul!
My own fall
Caught only by your voice
Calling me into the Egyptian Wing,
And by my own laugh,
When you twirled off my hand
It shook the skin from an overpriced man and
I stood shorter, again.
We build our cities about idols like you
To which eyes rise and fall and
On which humble swords are cut –
Trimming us down to size and
Giving us room to live.