Ballad of Orpheus


I have forsaken my time to add

memory to your palimpsest name 

ghost of voice ebbing to a halt 

in this morbid quest to see your frame 

but the underworld seems to exhale 

the music of your breathing on loop. 

I see hell’s spirits dance as one, 

I understand who I have to dupe.

So I bow before the chthonic king, 

lay down armour in the viper’s nest, 

and play snake charmer, sing, hypnotise 

to rouse your soul from its plutonian rest.  


You feel like the sepia glow of past  

promises hung out to dry as I croon    

about the broken chords of your laughter    

to death’s dull, dogmatic tune.

Their cystic, Styx tears meander in flux   

as they unshackle you from Thanatos’ reign.     

Do not look back, they say, patience is virtue;     

in a faithless plain lies only pain.  

Thus, I traipse through Asphodel’s fields   

and steal your name from Lethe’s lithe claws.   

For you, I have frozen hell itself –  

cheated Death’s own atavistic laws.  

But I have loved you too much, piecemeal,  

for this risk to have no guarantee.  

What if I turn around to see nothing    

but the silence of what was you and me?   

Trust is a vice I cannot afford so     

I turn to see your fleeting figure   

and lose you, lose everything at all   

that was worth this wretched rigour.    

And I had forsaken my time to add     

memory to your palimpsest name.  

I journeyed to hell’s depths and back   

for this only to end with your silence – the same.      

Durva Kamdar (Class of 2024) is a reader who lacks the ability to spell. When she’s not panicking before an assignment or cramming for a test, she enjoys reading comics and listening to Korean pop music.