Wedding in the Hesperides

You should have known I’d return.
My letters to you always embraced

the left margin, the page’s West
where the golden apples grew – yes, yes,

those same apples Atalanta gathered up
while she ran against her suitor, Hippomenes

and in losing, poor virgin, lost herself
to marriage. I am a better loser:

a mediocre huntress, at best, at ease
with chronology – step, step – one leads

to the next. In the tick-tock gap
that is you, I am the horologist, watching

the moon’s occipital glow, clockwise.
Centuries ago last week, the portcullis

descended on desire and wanters were reduced
to counterfeit obsessions – small foods, snow globes,

flacons and flagons, matters of scale
void of passion. Now no one is beheaded,

and we are free to proceed with the melee:
the senate on excess meets all day daily.

I will convince you: I am not tempted
by the desserts of deception, no, no,

I am besotted, though my feet may stutter
en route to the altar, though sweat

may fret your wondering brow – does she mean
what she says? – I do. I lost the race, plotting

a leisurely pace and am better for it.
Juno demands we untie all the knots

before she will oversee my delivery unto you
and yours to me under Jove’s bright eye.

I told those Nymphs of the Setting Sun
(better than a watch of nightingales,

nymphs turned poplar, willow, elm)
that it would all work out and they sang

their usual ditty near that spring –
you know, the one that spurts ambrosia.

Patty Seyburn has published three books of poems: Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). Her poems have recently been published in Boston Review, DIAGRAM and Hotel Amerika. She is an Associate Professor at California State University, Long Beach and co-editor of POOL: A Journal of Poetry ( She recently won a 2011 Pushcart Prize for her poem, “The Case for Free Will,” published in Arroyo Literary Review.