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JoAnn Ralph Visual Artist

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The Artist
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As Ovid Has Written


Ovid has written about them.

Only he called them Baucis and Philemon-

those two elderly being who welcomed into their home

the strangers no one else would,

welcomed them, and gave them to eat and drink,

and beds to lie on,

while knowing not the while who they were

(for they'd disguised themselves);

but who, once they'd revealed themselves;

gave to their hosts in turn,

for their generosity,

still more years of time together before,

finally, a time of dying together,

but not a dying in which their lives were ended

but a dying in which they were transformed

into beings of another kind-

Philemon into a tall oak whose firm branches overspread

the frailer, smaller linden his wife became beside him.

Yes, this is what the gods Mercury and Jupiter

gave to them for their generosity.

And if I could give to them

a gift for their generosity - to them

who call to my mind the man and wife of Ovid's tale -

I'd give to them eternal life together as well -

though perhaps not as seed-bearing trees standing

side by side

but as a single tree in whose branches

a song-bird ever aspires with her song

to play also the song of the divine

that is born first and always from what once was human -

as Ovid in his tale has written. 


Written by D.M.