by Alexandra Kostoulas
The only thing that matters,
she said, as the sunrise
became an ellipsis that hangs
between thoughts…is that
you be true to yourself no matter what.
She said this and tilted her head back, the Oracle.
And laughed a throaty, long bellow—
her hair, woven back against her skull in plaits,
her robe, silken in flattering folds
and the gasses shimmering up through the fog
in the chasm that blows in cold, surprising, intoxicating
air on all pilgrims that are able to climb up through the leafy
shadows to hear her speak.
Know yourself: words to live by, no matter your time.
Know yourself and the rest will come.
Maybe these words were too frightening
for powerful men – the Great Alexander, who in a fury, pulled
her out of the temple by her hair
when she suggested he might not
conquer the entire world, but at best a piece of it,
or the thousands of young men,
come to inquire about their
future greatness, who instead lost themselves
in madness and her eyes.