Suffering Borne by Two Is Nearly Joy

by Elizabeth Volpe

after Prometheus Bound by Peter Paul Rubens

This, I suppose, is the ancient definition
        of suffering: a great
                 eagle with no personal grudge

sinks his beak
        day after day
                 into guts and blood,

a vicious circle
        of punishment and redemption.
                 Prometheus, I think, had the edge,

for he grew to know
        his tormentor fully, could forgive,
                 even love,

the great bird whose mighty talons
        tore his groin. I wonder if
                 the grand eagle could

ever forgive the man
        whose flesh he gored
                 daily, all those years—

his tongue numb from sameness.
        Perhaps over the years
                 like any married pair

they would look in each other’s eyes,
        a braided thread of light and dark
                 stitching one to the other.