Toothless

“I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

***

I met a goddess once.

“Yeah, me too,” you’re thinking,
but I don’t mean it the way you mean it.
I don’t mean that I met an incredibly beautiful,
intelligent, articulate, talented, neurotic,
engaging, enraging, whimsical, powerful,
woman. Women.
I mean that I was graced to meet
an actual goddess, and that somehow,
the holiness of that meeting was not lost on me,
despite my blindness.
We communed over Little Caesar’s Pizza
in a run-down psych ward that not had heat for two days
during an Oklahoma cold snap.
Her beautiful hair crawled with lice,
and when she found that I loved poetry,
she recited Shelley’s Ozymandias to me-
her complete lack of teeth giving the words
a lisping, breathless quality
that only made them more immediate.
This was not about an ancient king-
not about those who put their trust in power.
It was about a weary Goddess who knew,
from long experience,
that eventually, all is dust.

(But not while I’m alive.
I hold her voice, her beauty,
in worship
while I live.)


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