Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


To Last

I have had to learn the simplest things
last. Which made for difficulties...
—Charles Olson


We know from accounts of the judgment of Paris how Love took first: 
the apple burnished by—it turns out—her own husband, working the bellows,
forging to Discord's specifications, her need to break the spaghetti strands
of marriage, her undiluted vitriol, that oversaw his flux and foundry, 
guided the sparking hammer to its urgent deed.

Spoils of war.

Power, undeterred and wily as it always is, the figural eye and its agency,
took gladly the second chair, from which advantage machinations could be seen.
Advised, conferred, deployed the second wave of ships, provided mercenary aid
to every side and fanned the air, and made her counsel with all sides, supporting
every one and none, out-waiting tides.

If we believe the Greeks, the spokes of Fortune's wheel in constant turn would allow
the last to be the first—beatitudes bestowed upon the losing side, 
a draught of time in which the wily ones, by their equine portage made
the mind the victor over Love's inconstancy and strife,
and, over brute acts, gave thought dominion in a golden age. But that's just myth.

Wisdom, you are the last to whom I turn. Not for your spear, 
fashioned in that same fire as all bright jealous objects of desire. But for your shield.
Protect the least of us. Or lift me from this battlefield,
and take me home.

Credit


Copyright © 2012 by D. A. Powell. Used with permission of the author.

Author


D. A. Powell

D. A. Powell's most recent books are Repast: Tea, Lunch, Cocktails (Graywolf Press, 2014) and Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2012).

Date Published: 2012-08-08

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/last-0