Lament for the Makaris

A word of advice: love the dead, who
cannot disappoint or break the living heart.
Weep for Adonaïs, who would be dead by now,

weep with tears already consoled by time –
if your wounds are opened, they are already old.
You have grown used to them. You even

take pleasure in mourning for those long dead.
Weep for Sappho, for all of her we’ve lost, for
fragments, for what we could have had – and yet

she has no power to harm you, poor flitting shade,
in the fields of Elysium, who, after two thousand
years, would have died utterly, without her works.

Do not love the living. There time can wound and mar:
the thought that once we breathed the same air
and now do not. We were never kin with the dead.

We read their lives like stories. But the living –
they were once like us, they ate and drank
and mussed the sheets. And now do not.