by Anna Mirzayan
Dark roast is coffee that has been roasted
almost to the point of burning.
It turns from green to charcoal.
Today the air smells blackened, singed,
tinted with vast quietness of fields laid bare
after forces have withdrawn.
The table I choose is awash with coffee cups, hipsters
and books–Organic Chemistry, dental hygiene,
and a Loeb version of the Aeneid, which I eye
and covet quietly.
In the story Prince Aeneas survives the siege of Troy.
As he’s sailing towards the future Rome,
a group of his companions fall in love with a beach
where the company has taken refuge.
It reminds them of home before the walls were
slathered with the blood of Trojan children.
Aeneas leaves them on the island,
and sails on.
I want to turn to the person
whose copy that is,
and proclaim that I am the echo of Aeneas,
hard like stone, adrift on inhospitable seas
searching for a place to rest my ship.
I want to say I have hoisted my sails
to get to this place, though I was weary
from the world, from years of battling,
from the bodies of men and their ghosts.
I too have lost many loved ones
and my tears taste like a potion
of bitterness and regret.
I want to tell him that I too am trying
to be an incarnation of valor, fed on wolf’s milk.
that I have remade the words
with my own body, sacrificed to them my bones and the marrow of my dreams.
I have allowed Virgil to be the god whose instruction I followed
along swiftly tilting seas
in the hope of rebuilding a temple in my soul.
I want to whisper: I have finally made it here
through all the monsters of land and sea,
through betrayal and hope,
through my own wildness and fear
and the wilderness of my heart–
I have been courageous enough,
or foolish enough, to land upon these shores.
I want to reach over
and grasp the book like a raft,
thumb through its pulpy pages,
take in its smell and remember the walls of Troy.
Instead I saying nothing
and continue to sip my quiet cup of ash.