Borges’s Farewell to Meadville, Pennsylvania

By Stephen Myers

Featured art brown leather arm chair by Markus Spiske

By then, old age had laid siege to Borges
for many years. That evening, two handlers
one at each elbow, guided him, bent
like a question mark, up a short staircase
to his seat before the assemblage.
His voice, at first, was an ancient raven’s.
But finally, out of the brain’s dark nest,
he brought forth two lines from Virgil’s Georgics.
They glittered before him. His tongue loosened.
The night heat pressed in. A fragment of
Sappho. Erato beat the blackness back.

His listeners perceived her as wanderers
hear wings among pyrocanthus branches
under a thin moon. A couplet from Dryden,
a silver chain. “Ulalume” a small chalice.
He shifted more easily. One of his men
stepped forward with a glass of water.
Outside, sudden thunder, intermittent
flashes. After he’d spoken, they brought on
the musicians. He sat tapping his cane
to “St. James Infirmary,” smiling,
leaning forward toward the low-lit stage
as if in submission, he who had loved
the Goddess, and she him, letting himself
be lifted and carried off on the shoulders
of Milt Hinton’s gold-greaved bass.

Stephen Myers has published a full-length collection, Memory’s Dog, and two chapbooks. A Pushcart Prize winner, he has had poems appear in publications such as Beloit Poetry Journal, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry East, The Southern Review, and Tar River Poetry. Five of his prose poems will appear in an upcoming issue of Hotel Amerika.

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