Beach Body


Beach Body

by Ovid  (Original piece is in Latin)

Translation by Victoria Punch

early morning. down to the shore again
to find a place to grieve. the place he left
lingering. here the ropes were loosed [here
he gave me kisses on the shore, here he left] she said


and while she thought and looked and felt, looking out
along the shore, in liquid space, she saw—far off
not sure—a body or something in the water—
wondered what, but then the waves pulled it by—still
far—a body for sure. [whose?] unknown
but she felt sick for the shipwreck,
wept for the stranger as a driving
wave brought the body nearer
and as it got bigger her soul grew smaller—now
near, nearing land. now she could see. now she knew.
it was her husband [it’s him] she breathed and
stretched a shaking hand and tore
her face and hair and clothes


[how can you come back to me like this]


in that bay a man-made pier, where the waves broke
down she went, she leapt
and this amazing thing: she flew,
struck light air, bore wings compressed and turned,
a desolate bird wave-bound


Original Latin poem was published by Publius Ovidius Naso, ed. Daniel Chrispinus Helvetius in 1778 in The Metamorphoses


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