Atlas’ Story

 

Once I asked a hundred questions

Of a nameless, faceless deity

And painted in blacks and reds and rich, golden

Yellows,

The brightest blues and turquoise and orange-

Colours of the world;

I woke up to

Every new day

And I danced to a hundred tunes,

Prancing there and twirling here

In a mad rush

To jump the highest

And climb the tallest

And run the fastest-

And I did;

I did all of it;

And my questions ate at me

And my colours painted me,

And my dance?

My dance grabbed my hands

And spun me so I couldn’t stop

Until my mind was in my feet

And my feet were at my neck

And my eyes flew out into the orbit of the earth

And I was a large, spangled,

Walking, talking,

Constellation of brilliance

I could not make head or tail of,

And so I hopped right off the

Carousel

And settled down at Atlas’ feet

To contemplate the burden

He has carried since forever;

“Throw it away,” I told him,

He laughed- “do you think,

Little spangled idiot, that you are the first

Or the last to sprawl there at my feet

With your whimsical little fancies?

You will climb again on soon enough;”

And I turned my back to him in a huff,

And outwaited his laughter,

And outwaited his mockery,

And outwaited his patience,

And then he smiled and said, “wait some more,”

And I did,

And it must have been thousands of earthly years-

And when I turned around he said,

“Maybe you now know a fraction

Of what I know,”

And I said, “all I know is my eyes fell out of orbit

And my feet found

Their way back down

To my ankles,

And I have two arms and ten fingers again

And if I can remember how,

Perhaps I CAN

Stand upright again,”

“That’s right” he said,

“You know enough to get on with;”

And I did;

And as I stood there, feeling

My muscles

As though I had just been born,

I gazed at him and he smiled

And I smiled,

And I climbed

And I climbed

And when I reached the Earth

I held up my two hands,

And as I looked around I saw a hundred thousand,

Thousand more,

Holding her, welcoming me-

“One day,” he said,

“The Earth will have shed enough

Madness for her to carry on herself,

And that day

We will all climb back on again.”

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