Old-fashioned, upon the palisades

High above the sea a man shouts -
'O, my country for a woman!'
And I, below, can see his
war-cultivated stubble, the flap
of his shirt longing to join the wind,
and I shout back up to him like
a chorus antistrophe - 'you sir
have obviously never read
Greek tragedies!
Don't you know, the woman
you love now will only desert you later;
if she is kind it will be a swift severance.'

But the man wants to discover
the meaning of life in his own way -
awkward stumbling toward a woman
he barely recognizes - foreign
like the Virgin Mary on a blurry postcard.
He purchases her out of faith
in a market in Spain, with peddlers
screaming - 'she alone knows you!
Do not let your penance go to waste!'
in his ear, and out of humility he has
carried her in his back pocket ever since.

He does not hear me now,
nor will he ever listen close enough
to the shattering ocean waves;
he will realize, far to late, that the time
for poignancy has passed. He overpowers
the scenery in the mirror, muttering
to himself - 'chivalry is not dead,
not dead at all, really.'

He wishes he could believe himself.
[His woman, his country, lies in ruins.]