Lead

Don’t kill me, father!

— Euripides, Herakles

 

Freshly cut, it is bluish white.

It tarnishes in the moistness

of air to grey. The grey allows

the black to show through. The first dose

drowns the original anger

in bright bliss. The next doses take

the anger, hide it, increase it,

make it indistinguishable

from what is now the dark; is now

the brother of need. No way back

to try to stand and see that change.

Or imagine I will save you,

my father, before or after

you are like a man whose eyes roll

in his head and who releases

lead­tipped arrows into his sons.

Those sons move like slow birds and fall.

The sky they look out at narrows

and then there is no sky. No way

back to where I see clear, intact,

even my memory of you.

I am neither cursed nor favoured.

I drink what you drank in my heart

that drinks blood and time, while it stays

lodged in me, lustreless metal,

hate not mine and mine, resisting

corrosion, conducting nothing,

and I carry the weight of it.

I simply carry it, with eyes

that carry light. I carry it.