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The Veil of Alcestis

by Angela Pitts

There you stand,
a surfeit of language
confounded into silence,
like a chasm of sound
in the abyss of night,
once a chorus of whippoorwills,
enchanting itself,
until suddenly overawed
by unknown footsteps.
You do not recognize her
standing before you,
against all odds,
in the light of day again.
I am sheer as gossamer,
but, to your blind eyes,
I might as well be a mesh
woven as compactly
as the interlocking stones
of a fortress.
I only seem an impediment
to reconciliation,
which you alone have power
to sweep away.
But there you stand,
a century
under too much weaponry,
a too-vigilant guard
against unhoped-for things.
Do you not see her
returned to sunlight
from caliginous recesses
in the mouldering Earth?
She has perceived the specter
of bloody-robed Tisiphone
conducting a lamentation
beside the groaning Acheron.
She has swum rivers of grief, crowded round
by the burnt out eyes
of souls who will not return.
Take her hands, you fool.
Speak.
Do not let your silence
be her second death.

Angela Pitts is Associate Professor of Classics
at the University of Mary Washington where
she works closely with her students, including
members of the Beta Nu chapter.

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