Poet Jeffery Beam

Antinous in Egypt

I myself felt a kind of terrible joy at the thought that that death
was a gift. But I was the only one to measure how much bitter
fermentation there is at the bottom of all sweetness, or what
degree of despair is hidden under abnegation, what hatred is
mingled with love.

Marguerite Yourcenar
Memoirs of Hadrian

Falcon. You were not enough.
Protection is a harsh device.
Comes only with the proper tools,
the appropriate sacrifice. You knew
that as well as I.

You served me well. At the end your
hooded sleepy face never betrayed
the wilderness in your blood. The hungry
talons: so like myself in my impetuous love.
Clutching for him took the uncanny
form of physical drowning in a spiritual glove.

All gives way. All lights extinguish.
White roses curl five petals
under Venus's star. My skin oozes
in honeyed ointment. No struggle
in the Nile. No pain. Just litany
and drowsy darkness claiming me.

Hadrian, my master. I am your Genius
speaking to you from the grave.
Know this enchantment binds!
I am your falcon, will follow
every arrow. No spear can harm me.
When the hunted falls, they will
be my prey.

A youthful oddity I am! So few sense
Death's power. The sheer curtain
keeping us from it. The blaze, oh,
the blaze! Earthly passions pale before it.

The priests ignite their incense, murmuring
their prayers - supplications to the multitudinous
flower of the spheres. Red poppies flash
faces at the gate - black throats groaning.

Falcon. You were not enough.
Together we had to go, swelling
the blood-bloom sinew in his chest.

From The Fountain, 1992, North Carolina Wesleyan College Press.

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Last updated: October 1, 2012