by Anne Carson
The extract below is from Carson’s novel in verse, a modern and often steamy, re-creation of an ancient Greek myth.
XVI . Grooming
As in childhood we live sweeping close to the sky and now, what dawn is this.
Herakles lies like a piece of torn silk in the heat of the blue saying,
Geryon please. The break in his voice
made Geryon think for some reason of going into a barn
first thing in the morning
when sunlight strikes a bale of raw hay still wet from the night.
Put your mouth on it Geryon please.
Geryon did. It tasted sweet enough. I am learning a lot in this year of my life,
thought Geryon. It tasted very young.
Geryon felt clear and powerful ⎯ not some wounded angel after all
but a magnetic person like Matisse
or Charlie Parker! Afterwards they lay kissing for a long time then
played gorillas. Got hungry.
Soon they were sitting in a booth at the Bus Depot waiting for food.
They had started to practice
their song (“Joy to the World”) when Herakles pulled Geryon’s head
into his lap and began grooming
for nits. Gorilla grunts mingled with breakfast sounds in the busy room.
The waitress arrived
holding two plates of eggs. Geryon gazed up at her from under Herakles’ arm.
Newlyweds? she said.