Judith Skillman

After the act—prima facie—
of his drowning by conceit
came the floating. Head to sky,

his pupils empty
as a Roman statesman in that summer's
thunderhead-layered heaven.

Came autumn, its telltale
mole-mounds, dead possums,
raccoons hounded by Indian summer

searching garbage bins
with their all-too-human hands.
Trees around the property

put down roots for Narcissus
equal in length and breadth
to his longing for himself.

Their branches circling. Concentric
ripples sent from the stone of his head
into the water to speak in whispers

about the doppelganger lives
of lover and loved, adoring and adored.
Dead weight: the shroud,

the forest with its canopy filial.
The son of a patriarch, tongue-flowered
with light. How close the self

to its band of thought-accomplices.
How veer away from the proscriptive drama
of nature masquerading as myth

and archetype? Come the thick man,
a corpse for a copse. Come the horse in blinders
to witness everyman's Achilles' heel.


With apologies to Caravaggio