First Told the Myth of Orpheus
My school book left out the pursuit
that led Eurydice’s ankle to the snake.
Virgil wrote it: Aristaeus,
the beekeeper, out to rape her.
Her death brought the death
of all his bees.
My school book constructed a new
death for Orpheus himself—
drowned him. In the picture,
a lion crying by the lake.
Three Thracian women tore him
limb from limb.
Some say the women lusted
and that Orpheus turned
Others don’t explain it.
One poet, Phanocles, wrote
another love of Orpheus: Calais,
young boy, winged, son
of the North Wind.
The truth: the story I was taught
kept the two alone,
Orpheus and Eurydice.
Through that meadow and then…
But I became the dramatic woman
anyway, and Aristaeus was forgiven,
and those muses collecting
the arms and legs of Orpheus—
I am collecting, too. I collect them.
Sarah Blake is the author of Mr. West, an unauthorized lyric biography of Kanye West, out with Wesleyan University Press. Her poems have appeared, or will soon, in The Kenyon Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Threepenny Review. She was awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship for poetry in 2013. She is Editor at Saturnalia Books and co-founder of Submittrs.