The Death of Antinoüs ("When the beautiful young man drowned"…
The Death of Antinoüs
"When the beautiful young man drowned"
"Hadrian placed his image everywhere,
a marble Antinoüs"
"And if the lover's
inimitable form was nowhere,
then he would find it everywhere"
"Wherever Hadrian might travel,
the beloved figure would be there
"the turn of his shoulders,
the exact marble nipples,
the drowned face"
"not really lost to the Nile"
"which has no appetite,
merely takes in anything
without judgement or expectation"
"but lost into its own multiplication"
"an artifice rubbed with oils and acid
so that the skin might shine."
"Which of these did I love?"
"Here his hair, his hair
"If only one of you [...]
"he might have said
to one of the thousand marble boys anywhere"
"Here the chiseled liquid waist
I hold because I cannot hold it."
"or the statues might have been enough"
"the drowned boy blurred as much by memory
as by water"
"molded towards an essential,
"longing, of course,
become its own object"
that desire can turn anything into a god."
"though the boy simply became more dead
as the sculptors embodied him"
the public squares"
"where a few dogs
in every squalid little crossroads"
"at the furthest corners of the Empire"
"what do we want in any body
but the world?"
"swimming at dawn
in a current too swift for him"
"or obedient to some cult
of total immersion"
the bather would come up divine"
"mortality rinsed from him"