The Gift of Mortal Sorrow

by Carolin Messier

View from Nepenthe Big Sur

I’ve come to Nepenthe to drink the pharaohs’ wine

and fall into the sweet sleep

of forgetfulness, free from all sorrow

and earthly misery.


A hawk circles, wings extended

to receive the breath

of land kissing sky at the ocean’s edge

a ménage a trios as old as the world.


The tree line, Chantilly lace of garter

on a woman’s thigh, painted toes of stony cliffs

test the water of the bath

fanned by air that won’t be stilled.


The enormity of the ocean

charmed by cliffs and hills

embraces them, Poseidon as Gaia’s lover

and Zeus shows no jealousy today.


Deer roam the hall of ancients, older than the gods.

Uprooted by storms and erosion

a giant falls, we weep

to learn again that nothing is immortal.


Not the monoliths who’ve stood

since before we knew the sun was still

that our blue world was not

the center of the universe.


Not the mountains

who crumble or disintegrate en masse

into the blowing atmosphere

from frozen land to blazing desert.


Nothing is immortal,

but stories grow and change

evolve as they are told,

forgotten and rediscovered.


The stories’ lovers are not the gods

but the tellers and the scribes,

singers, dancers and actors on the stage

who bind us, one generation to the next.


Not wanting to live forever

but craving the love of mother and babe,

I choose the life of solitude

writing words upon a page.


I thank the gods their hospitality

yet decline the pharaoh’s cup and part

from beautiful Nepenthe, not wanting to forget my sorrow,

for with it, I would forget my joy as well.