ode to mnemosyne

Ode to Mnemosyne

O Mnemosyne,
you were born when ancient Gaia yearned for mourning,
like folds felt on ageless skin, as skin-deep as memory is,
from the Helicos Pass, seizing Megara and Sparta,
even the Spine of the World, aching.

Not Aeolus nor the Zephyr creased Poseidon’s mirror
like you did, O muse of meaning.
Never shall a witness compare, not even
Clio’s ephemeral disconnect.
Sweet Euterpe has song — even Apollo honors her,
but greatest muse, in you, such melodies lust
for as regal a court as the concept of image,
as a concept of affect,
and as concepts, they must.

And listen: in her darkest,
Polyhymnia cries of you dearly,
and even Melpomene concurs
while Erato and Calliope meander childish flights,
and Urania in arrest, very slightly, stirs.
O Mnemosyne, only you are true:
even Thalia dances her dances because of you.

In such presence that enslaves even great Olympus,
you bring such confidence that everything else convenes denial.
And while godly courts ensure themselves as slaves
unrightly, unsightly, consigned only to sighs,
and mortal graves, dear Memory, dear Memory, you do not lie,
your oracles only challenged slightly
by the burning heart of Delphi.

Encamp in my being, as you did every marrow,
as a meddler in sleep, a preambler of morrow;
how greater you are than my fears growing shallow!
Even Charybdis pales—
to be swallowed by you is a much greater sorrow.

O Mnemosyne,
tell me I have seen.
I have broken words and worlds,
and everything in between, but I
cannot be unbound to you, I always will be—
and with Hecate’s aid you come.

Now, Mnemosyne, I have sung,
as you struck chords in me like none other,
and what Herculean labor that I still breathe.
I have only you, and nothing else—
and with this ode, I humbly confess
as a mortal content.

Should you decide to depart, I am ready,
for the death of my mind,
I believe, is the death of I,
and whatever you take with you when you leave
my personal hell, what must be left
is none other than an empty shell. But Memory,
I beg for you to never leave, or else…

Else? I shall have nothing else;
yet my gratitude shall rival breadths that span
the Dryad-havens to the Pleiades—
and I will end, conflagrated of meaning,
my soul consigned to Hades.

— A. P.

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