Home > Poetry > The Old World
Published: Sat Apr 15 2000
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
The Old World

When I was young the earth was a hard blue globe
             with multi-colored countries and British pinks
             standing by a desk as tall as I
             and spun round by my grandfather’s wooden fingers.

Slowly working pause and counterpause
             he crossed the deserts, jungles and three oceans;
             the ball became a five by fifteen spread—
             a flat idea projected on a wall.

One day Odysseus crossed to Ithaka;
             then Roland on his mountain blew his horn;
             Dido rose from the ashes of her love;
             Cauchon lit the match that burned up Joan.

Now my long-lived hours recombine the past.
             All time is fiction; in the seas men drown.
             How can I prove my grandfather existed,
             or there’s a library where this world will last?

See what's inside AGNI 51

F. D. Reeve, poet and novelist, most recently published The Moon and Other Failures (Michigan State University Press, 1999). His chamber oratorio The Urban Stampede, with music by Andrew Gant, had its world premiere in April 2000 at London’s Barbican and the book form was released in 2001 (Michigan State University Press, 2001).  (updated 2023)

Back to top