Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Priest of Hermes

The way up, from here to there, may be closed,
But the way down, from there to here, still open
Wide enough for a slender god like Hermes
To slip from the clouds if you give your evenings
To learning about the plants under his influence,
The winged and wingless creatures, the rocks and metals,
And practice his sacred flute or dulcimer.

No prayers. Just the effort to make his stay
So full of the comforts of home he won’t forget it,
To build him a shrine he finds congenial,
Something as simple as roofed pillars
Without the darkness of an interior.

If you’re lucky, he’ll want to sit on the steps
Under the stars for as long as you live
And sniff the fragrance of wine and barley
As it blows from the altar on a salty sea breeze.
He’ll want, when you die, to offer his services
As a guide on the shadowy path to the underworld.

Not till you reach the watery crossing
Will he leave your side, and even then
He’ll shout instructions as you slip from your shoes
And wade alone into that dark river.

-Carl Dennis