We had anticipations of conquest, ships
down the coast of Arabia.
But he had fallen, exhausted, and all
of our plans were forsaken, forestalled by a fever.
Afterwards, when he lay, ensconced in the palace,
the generals surrounded him, hid his affliction
from the rest of us who were his followers.
Perhaps you are aware
that we Greeks who had crossed the Bosphorus
with him, had never been paid for our services,
that we had fought
along the Tigris, and as far as the Ganges
because of our love for our leader;
for like the morning sun he had glowed to us,
and when he spoke
we were like tuning forks,
reverberating to his music.
He was, like his coins, our Heracles,
bearing us, and the world, on his shoulders.
So when the inflammation spread,
sending wicked red marks
coursing up the length of his loin,
despoiling what had surely been an indisputable tower of strength,
we would have, had we known, sent our prayers
in unison, up to the heavens and the gods to save him.
We would have done all that, and more,
if the generals
had not isolated him from us. I think
that what they wanted
was for us to feel
that he was not so important,
that the world would go on
even without his presence.
But what is a victory without a victor?
What is a universe
without the glory of its sunlight?