Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Sisypha Retires


                 Not pushing a rock—
        like my husband, of erstwhile fame, Sisyphus,
I had been pulling him—a dead night-weight
                 on my chest—pulling the way sailors heave
        up a three-thousand-pound mast so my fingers
had permanent rope-burn—pulling him to be
                 father, lover, other than self-
        obsessed in his colossal task.
He would never rest. Always pushing
                 that stone, he became a stone. Sometimes
        he called it the mind meditating; other times
he called it the weight of the world's tears
                 and he—only he—could blot them dry.
        Little did I know he drank those tears—thrived on them.
So when I stopped crying, he stopped lifting me.

Then my work began of pulling—my son put to work—we both
        began yanking—dragging—luring      his father away from that
                 anonymous ball of grief—my son pulling with chess pieces—
a baseball—his own monkey antics. I with lower-cut dresses. We yanked.
        We tugged. We strained. We lugged till our hearts
                 beat into our lungs a Siren song. But we only saw
the back of his neck—the bristled head pushing out the door
        pushing the air-like-granite pushing, finally, into another
                 woman—heaving her up the hill of his might
as we stayed below, encamped where his feet had been,
        puling (puking into a pail) though by now his ears are stoppered.

So what could we do but let the line go—stop tugging at his back.
                 Our arms and legs muscle-bound. Our faces, for once

                 out of his shadow, have turned toward the unobstructed sun
and each other, the burden of his gravity lifted, we are beginning

to dance-as-though-swimming
                                             to walk-as-though-floating.


Sharon Dolin

Whirlwind
University of Pittsburgh Press


To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem