The Acolyte

Saturday, July 15, 2023


Mary Hawley

All night long I’ve been reading the Oration on the Dignity of Man by Pico della Mirandola,
from which one concludes that May 14, 1486, does not exist,
that spring and youth are daughters of Marsilio Ficino,
that beauty by mythological right is wife of the tripod and the chameleon. 

I admit to having read my destiny in a glass of water six thousand years before the death of Plato,
I admit to having fed an animal with curved claws,
I accept the influence of the Magi.
I have no children, is that a crime?
Nor have I energy for an epic.
I confess my barefoot adoration of the triangle of piety that others call the Cube of Zoroaster,
I confess my belief in the theology of the number 7 and the gestation of heat donors,
I confess my faith in Timaeus of Locri astronomer of the diverse. 

All night long I’ve been reading the tree of conjecture;
of its fruits I’ve carried home the spiral stair where Jacob had a dream
and testimony about the heavenly nature of all rocks.
I accept that I’ve paid attention to impediments,
I accept the visitation of the prodigal and the music of the spheres,
I accept not having written anything that hasn’t happened to me in the future. 

All night long I’ve been reading the Oration on the Dignity of Man,
from which one deduces the arithmetic of the sea and the Law beneath the holly oak’s bark,
from which one deduces the river of science and the swallow of the Chaldeans,
from which one deduces the nonexistence of death and the fertility of the debatable.


About the Translator: Mary Hawley is an American poet, fiction writer, and literary translator. Current translation projects include a collaboration with Silvia Goldman Pérez on a sequence of poems in Spanish and English, and translating two novels by the Uruguayan writer Sergio Altesor Licandro. Her poems, short stories, and translations have been widely published, and she received a 2019 Illinois Literary Award in fiction.

Saturday, July 15, 2023