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?