Sisyphus decides—why not—
to let go of the stone he’s been rolling
up a hill for what seems like forever.
He falls back, onto the long grass, noticing
the deep groove his stone has made
in the hillside, remembers
how he would always get so far and then
it would somehow slip his grasp, start rolling
back the way it came, to wait for him
at the bottom of the hill. Now it tumbles
over a field he’s never seen before,
getting smaller, disappearing
into the blur of distance. He knows
this is hell he’s in, no doubt of it
with all the treasure here, the brightness
dragged down from the upper world and spread
out like scattered flowers and all the people,
doomed to torment, misery, the loss
of everything they’ve ever loved but still
looking, for the moment, almost cheerful.
by Ciaran Parkes, first published in The Threepenny Review.
Editor’s Note: Three line stanzas carefully control the pace of the narrative, giving a reader a sense of the deliberation of Sisyphus and his fateful decision.