Today was the last lecture day for my American Poetry class. We discussed a couple excerpts from Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red and I fell in love with part “VII. Change”.
The context for this section is that Geryon— a little, red, winged, mythological creature— is meeting Herakles for the first time and they fall in love in that very moment. It helps to read the section out loud.
Somehow Geryon made it to adolescence.
Then he met Herakles and the kingdoms of his life all shfted down a few notches.
They were two superior eels
at the bottom of the tank and they recognized each other like italics.
Geryon was going into the Bus Depot
one Friday night about three a.m. to get change to call home. Herakles stepped off
the bus from New Mexico and Geryon
came fast around the corner of the platform and there it was one of those moments
that is the opposite of blindness.
The world poured back and forth between their eyes once or twice. Other people
wishing to disembark the bus from New Mexico
were jamming up behind Herakles who had stopped on the bottom step
with his suitcase in one hand
trying to tuck in his shirt with the other. Do you have change for a dollar?
Geryon heard Geryon say.
No. Herakles stared straight at Geryon. But I’ll give you a quarter for free.
Why would you do that?
I believe in being gracious. Some hours later they were down
at the railroad tracks
standing close together by the switch lights. The huge night moved overhead
scattering drops of itself.
You’re cold, said Herakles suddenly, your hands are cold. Here.
He put Geryon’s hands inside his shirt.