Maya C. Popa
Plato at Sixteen
The archetype could look like anyone, though it helped to be tall
and have blue eyes. It was beauty, but who could say
what wasn’t beauty. Between fiction and flaw, a gauzy translation,
backstory gathered with faithful scrutiny: how Eric extracted a bowl
from the kiln with confidence articulated by care, or flipped his cap
backwards with a grin. The books foretold of pining’s vigilance,
hollow game plan and derivative accomplishments. Rapture, and the dim,
vague end to what seemed endless—what followed the long work of want?
Was it more work, still want, or something wanting? Years like this,
ripening boys in your own tongue so that they quoted great books
neither of you had read. Finding it was you you fell in love with over
and over, who made the strange familiar, strange again. Who shaped
the world you ached to live in, homesick for the company you kept.
MAYA C. POPA is the author of American Faith (Sarabande Books). She is the Poetry Reviews Editor at Publishers Weekly and director of the Creative Writing Program at the Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City, where she teaches English and creative writing.