You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Sisypha Retires

Not pushing a rock—

like my husband, of erstwhile fame, Sisyphus,

I had been pulling him—a dead night-weight

on my chest—pulling the way sailors heave

up a three-thousand-pound mast so my fingers

had permanent rope-burn—pulling him to be

father, lover, other than selfobsessed

in his colossal task.

He would never rest. Always pushing

that stone, he became a stone. Sometimes

he called it the mind meditating; other times

he called it the weight of the world’s tears

and he—only he—could blot them dry.

Little did I know he drank those tears—thrived on them.

So when I stopped crying, he stopped lifting me.

Then my work began of pulling—my son put to work—we both

began yanking—dragging—luring his father away from that

anonymous ball of grief—my son pulling with chess pieces—

a baseball—his own monkey antics. I with lower-cut dresses. We yanked.

We tugged. We strained. We lugged till our hearts

beat into our lungs a Siren song. But we only saw

the back of his neck—the bristled head pushing out the door

pushing the air-like-granite pushing, finally, into another

woman—heaving her up the hill of his might

as we stayed below, encamped where his feet had been,

puling (puking into a pail) though by now his ears are stoppered.

So what could we do but let the line go—stop tugging at his back.

Our arms and legs muscle-bound. Our faces, for once,

out of his shadow have turned toward the unobstructed sun

and each other, the burden of his gravity lifted, we are beginning

to dance-as-though-swimming

to walk-as-though-floating.

Sharon Dolin is a Writer-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts and the author of, most recently,  Burn and Dodge (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008).

For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.