Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 23: Short Shrift

When I read through the definition for "short shrift" I was struck by the way the word shrift was used as a term to describe exile.  And, whenever I think of exile, I think of Ovid.  How, at the heart of his career he was exiled to the very edges of Rome, Tomis  on the Black Sea by the emperor Augustus.  There is no record as to why Ovid was exiled, although he stated in his own poetry that it occurred because of carmen et error — "a poem and a mistake".  My classics professor in grad school (who was an expert on Ovid's haunting work Tristia which he wrote while living in Tomis) once visited the city.  He said that in it, is a lake and in the middle of lake is an island called simply, "Ovid's island".  He said no one there knew why it was called Ovid's island, and there is record (aside from references in Ovid's own poems) to record where he lived during his exile.  But, I like to believe he lived on that island.  This draft is a short reflection on Ovid, and the idea of exile.  Hope you enjoy.

Ovid's Shrift

Exile is like that. Bordered. Lines that blur
And stutter. Cold. An island. Not a limb
Touching land, or, the icy waters that
numb and surround. Pulling you away from
That hive of bodies. Rome's pulsing red core
What he writes down loses it's form. Is dredged
From the deep waters that surround his home. 
And there is still an island. We are still
Mapping what's drifted under the surface of

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