John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, “The Waters of Lethe by the Plains of Elysium” (1880), The Reddit Museum

“Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethe the River of Oblivion rolls
Her watery Labyrinth whereof who drinks,
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.”
(John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 2, Lines 582-586)

You might expect cold fire of darkness visible
on faces no mother prayed to see.

This queue respects no social distance,
that plague of emptiness imposed

between companions recognized only
in this line, this universe displayed
for those with eyes to see.

They gather not on the river of forgetfulness,
that awful cleansing of all they know

of sun rising, sun going down
on what in between defines

their circumnavigating the street,
displaced with others regarding the hours,
what they might contain, what each soul

dare not leave behind on the banks
of the river, hell being not their memories

of having lived, but rather not recalling
that touch, that smile, that discovered

chocolate donut still wrapped pristine
and dropped, they know, for them,
a serendipity of the street.

*For my friends, City Light Community Ministries

Rock Staar