i’d rather be a pauper on earth than king of the dead,
you said, and you were right:
life above is pauper-like
compared to the riches down here
not iron and shadow, the realms below,
but gold, soft and heavy with muffled voices.
the Midas-touch is yours now.
glory in the glittering setting
for the cracked diamond of your afterlife.
but then you always wanted what was torn from you
by Agamemnon or by Hector or by the god,
death’s miser king, counting his pile of souls,
the wealth of his ungiving realm.
everything turns to gold here—
kleos a mere trophy,
fame a sort of currency
not worth bartering your life for
even the beloved becomes a statue,
Galatea in reverse.
look at this fine Patroclus,
what would you pay for him?
you can’t take it with you, they always said.
they’re wrong. it’s all you can take.
Maya Chhabra is a poet. She is also the author of a middle grade novel, Stranger on the Home Front, and the forthcoming verse novel Chiara in the Dark. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, PodCastle, Daily Science Fiction, and other venues. She lives in Brooklyn with her wife. Visit her online at https://mayareadsbooks.wordpress.com/ and on Twitter as @mayachhabra.