Better than a lover's heart, the immortality of a name. 
Love versus Fama, the goddess, with her long purple nails,
her sweeping cloak, her memories of Caesar, Alexander,
the wolves on seven hills.  

Even better than love, fame, for as long as there is illness.  
I see that if I had discovered Cushing's disease,
I could have named it for myself.  
It's hard to maintain desire, that's part of it.  

But who first ate a grapefruit or tweezed a splinter
or waved across the pampas at someone else,
initiating the habit of the raised hand?
(If you don't wave two hands, there could still be a weapon.)

They're all forgotten, those heroes.  
How much do we know of Cushing, or care?
What about Harvey, before whom our blood
traveled uncharted paths?  Or so I was told
in seventh grade.  I never wanted fame,
so back to love, the desire for love, the one
that costs everything, that shocks you
when someone else casts a shadow on the map
of the earth for the first time larger than your own. 

Copyright © 2011 by Deborah Brown. Reprinted from Walking the Dog's Shadow with the permission of BOA Editions.