• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 02
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Ghazal, Alexander of Macedon

Alternate Universe Nutcracker: Fritz, instead, is the one who goes
To the Kingdom of the Sweets, marries the soldier, gets the final dance.

The Roman army camp is a perfect grid, Polybius tell us,
The lines, the soldiers, the eventual city—all an exacting dance.

Alternate Universe Iliad: everybody goes home early, saffron garlanded,
The javelins and cuirasses never do their bloody and enervating dance.

Ballerinas, horses, losing armies: these are the three things, I tell him,
Whispering close, afraid of their own shadows’ dance.

Alternate Universe Persia: the conqueror, having seen the known world,
Borrows the words of the Persian boy, the one he kissed at the dance.

For kohl-eyed he would lie in my arms, his eyes two cool mints, sugaring,
And I, his defender of men, final dancer of the cruel dance.