The 2River View 27.4 (Summer 2023)

Ellen June Wright

Orpheus I

every Black girl needs
someone to search for her
someone willing to descend
into hell’s eternal twilight
cross the river Styx
petition hell’s monarch for her body
play the sweetest song
to soothe the wildest heart
prick it with crystalline notes
until it bleeds
or remembers momentary love
every Black girl needs her Orpheus
someone who knows she's worth fighting for
even if he fails
even if he doubts she's two steps behind
following him towards the light
even though he turns his head
at least he tried
at least someone tried to pull
one Black girl out of hell

Orpheus II

I envy Eurydice
her man valuing her so much
he descended into the Underworld
leaving all his other loved ones behind
to pursue a greater love cross the river Styx
smell asphodel the musty scented flower
petition Hades himself
come to me Black Orpheus
see only me
play your lyre’s jazz for me
make the lyre wail for me
blue note after blue note
I’m lost or stolen
lead me out of the land of shade

Ellen June Wright consulted on guides for three PBS poetry series. Her work has appeared in Banyan Review, The Good Life Review, Passengers Journal, Rappahannock Review, Scoundrel Times, Verse Daily, and others. Wright is a Cave Canem and Hurston/Wright alumna.

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