Last night our oldest friend turned Oedipus at
Colonus. It happened right after his shaky great reading.
He stood unfolding his orthopedic cane
Atop the steps behind the Poetry Center,
His macular degeneration now having
Advanced so far he seemed oblivious
To all but the darkness his feet were about to enter.
And waving off our annoying flurry of hands
With his patient-impatient: “Go on ahead. Go on!”
We watched from the lamp-lit curb as he tap-tap-tapped
Each granite step. Tap-tap-tapped as if
Instructing us on how he kept his meter.
Call it blindly descending, Sophoclean
Ferocity of focus before an abyss,
But also the delicate steps of our elderly friend—
Still trusting the tremulous earth he walked on, but not
Expecting the Door of Love to suddenly open
(As it does for Oedipus in the denouement).
His heart was in his hand, and his hand was holding
His folding cane like a shepherd’s willowy wand.
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