Sisyphus, Retired

Sisyphus, an Atlas softened
Having laid his burden down
Some years ago
His sentence commuted
Or his crime forgotten
Released from Tartarus
Now makes the best of it, a life, a home
In some nameless suburb beneath
Snowy Mt. Parnassus
Where alongside a wife and child
He dwells, retired without pension
Having scandalized the neighbors
And argued with his wife, O Hekate!
What an uproar
Over a patch of dirt
By uprooting the weedy vegetable garden
Removing every stem and blade of green
Flattening the ground with well-spread gravel
Which he rakes in wavy lines
And careful circumvolutions
Around no fixed point
Save the great boulder which sits off-centre
Orbited by several lesser
Reminders of his unsavory past
It helps him to relax he claims
Why couldn’t he grow cucumbers instead
Or tomatoes red as murder
She complains to her son
You can’t live on stones she says
So much for cleverness!
Never mind cheating death
Envy can not be outrun
Now he helps others cheat on taxes
It passes the time
Honorably enough
Though nights unknown and unobserved
By family and community
He creeps through the house
Like a man set on defrauding the Erinyes
Of rightful retribution
Until he reaches the doorway to the yard
Where he squats on his haunches
With haunted eyes, clamped jaw
Watches the moon push the shadow of the rock
Around the barren earth

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