Pyramus on the Rhine

by William Furley

They met at twenty, then again at seventy.
Inbetween, separate roads to private misery.
Already as a student he fell in love with her,
walked with her along the Hölderlinallee
where willows smiled at their own reflections.
What did his parents have against her?
Hard to say: religion? Background? Some quirk?
They went their own ways, he to study in Paris,
she to become a teacher of good standing.
Both burdened by their marriages to partners
for one reason or the other quite unsuited.
A ruinous divorce, near-fatal illness,
brought them together again like driftwood
washed up on the same beach, where a memory
of love, last sap, formed unlikely shoots.
Now it was heart-accelerating phone-calls
exhilarating arrangements, a meeting after
fifty years apart, a walk along the Rhine
near Dortmund, where barges thrust snub noses
through the brown, relentless flood of water.
For Pyramus and Thisbe, love was out of step,
a plaything of time, or sequence, or of logic,
with Pyramus lamenting Thisbe's bloodied gown,
imagining her dying agony in the lion's jaw
and falling on his sword in devastation.
Love, do not just come, come at the right time.

©William Furley