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Marcus Aurelius

by Bianca Stone

Sometimes I wake up in the night
with a terrible headache, my mouth
blackened; a ghost looking for valuables
in the debris, I turn on a battery-powered
light, clipped to a book, I write things down
in the spirit of Marcus Aurelius
who said the finest bottle of wine
is just grape juice, passing through the liver,
no matter the beauty of a frothing glass,
or a night of big Truth-seeking, never recalled;
the importance of putting something bittersweet
into our mouths, turning it around and around
on our tongues, attaching to it, our missions,
our purposeā€”in the end
we are all just filters, not even
as beautiful as the plainest bird
or as zen as the meanest deer tick,
nothing is given over to, nothing new is lit.
So often it is this. I wake up, urgent, fatalistic,
with the taste of nectar on my boughs.
I replay on a loop my one stoic consistency,
my middle of the night vow,
that I will start tomorrow
the essential dismantling
of what I live.

Bianca Stone is the granddaughter of poet Ruth Stone, who taught for years at Binghamton University. Her book Someone Else’s Wedding Vows was published by Tin House in 2014.

Submitted by: David Chirico