Tuesday, June 21, 2022

On the Road from Piraeus

Inquire of the angel, I suppose they'd say. Of my angel:
that deathless thing of which I'm a vague and blundering counterfeit.

All right then, angel, speak up: tell me. What is it I should do?
At the question, sudden silence. The skin of the universe twitches.

Not that there is no answer, but that the answer is reserved.
I have not asked the right way. Not in the right order: not

with the right observances. How many times must I be told?
How many ways? You must learn to ask. Well yes, that's an answer

of sorts. But I am old. A year shy of getting cheap fare on the bus.
Doesn't that work here? I guess not. On this line

It's payment in full, every time, for every one. How
democratic. Really? That's my question? How do I ask?

The angel is prowling behind my back, now. No good
trying to spot him. By indirections find directions out. Right.

In the thin sunlight a slave tugs my sleeve. It's to be dinner
at Polemarchus's place. They won't take no for an answer.

Torchlight horse race later. Bring all of your friends.
But I had a question. Who doesn't have a question? You think

you're special? Well, apparently. No one wiser, 
said the oracle. As if in savage sport. The bowl of the sky tips

and the blessings begin to drain out, and the slave 
has a grip on my hem like death. Just a quick jaunt to Piraeus,

but now eternity has got her freezing hands on me. Glaucon,
Glaucon, you have betrayed me: you and your absent brother

Who waits with his pen in his hand.

1 comment:

Dale said...

The Republic begins with Socrates and Glaucon (Plato's brother) on the road back to Athens from Piraeus: they are detained by a slave of Polemarchus, who insists on them coming to dinner. They submit, and the rest of the book is their conversation there. How Plato (who was not at the dinner) manages to know what everyone said is left as an exercise for the reader.