Two Poems by Evan Jones
The Infinite Is a Mushroom
Gradually the stubborn empress died (she was twenty years older),
and the emperor was seized by a broken-heartedness.
He went to his advisors, and ‘mourning’, he said, ‘tomb’,
he said, ‘miracle’, he said. Some consoled him. When he said ‘infinite’
Michael understood the words were as stubborn as the empress.
He thought of Anaxagoras: my mourning is in everything in everything.
The tomb is a bee hive. The miracle is the royal blood. The infinite
is a mushroom preferred to a peach. What we offer in our losses
pushes against mortality and can feel something pushing back.
The emperor liked this. When his sister died, he barely noticed.
The City Was Burning
The emperor died mysteriously in his bath. The emperor
was captured and killed at Manzikert. The emperor was alive,
held to ransom. The emperor was no more. His brother plotted
a coup. The people rioted. His son came of age. The empress
took a younger lover. The city was burning. The plague all-
consuming. The houses and churches emptied, filled, emptied.
The emperor understood and said as much. His voice growing
fainter, as the Varangian guard led him away in chains.
About the Author:
Canadian poet Evan Jones has lived in Manchester since 2005. His most recent book is Later Emperors (Carcanet 2020).