Apparatus Criticus

I

Something close to confidence
Reading the sliver of teeth
Impressed in the lip
Irises a sea-green swirl
Charybdian, promising
Utter shipwreck
And I was eager to be wrecked
Dragged down and drowned:
It had been too long
Brief, fragmentary text
That moment—now the true
Pleasure of annotation
Variant readings of flickering
Eyelash, flaring nostril
Extrapolate the shape of the work
No names or stage directions
Just the look, a meager thing
But careers had been made of less
I set to work on the commentary

II

Theocritus put me in a mood:
I found myself in a sacred grove
Hurrying on cloven hooves
Beard and belly sticky
With unmixed wine
Beside the stream a sleeping youth,
Hum of bees and blood and water,
And a throng of dryads cooed
And it all thrummed within me
Until I could bear just to look no longer
Suddenly self-conscious how I appeared
To passing students in my reverie
I filed the book away, afraid
And isn’t it just how he says, there’s
No drug for love better than the Muses

III

The walk home took me
Through a game of Frisbee golf,
And I imagined one of those Apollos,
Having struck me with an errant throw,
Would take me in his arms and weep

IV

Overcome with frustrated desire
I eschewed electric light for candles
A light that warms, that responds to breath
But even better, a light that obscures
The bulb above exposes the shabbiness
Of the room, accentuates the lack of a lover
But the candles leave dark hollows
Behind couches, that corner near the bed
I conjure a lover in the margins of the room

[Zachary McGar is a librarian in Baton Rouge. His flash fiction piece “Aeneids” appeared in The Stoneslide Corrective. He often imagines what it would be like if his favorite Greek author (Lucian) and his favorite Latin author (Apuleius) threw down in rhetorical battle.]

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