On getting out of bed the one says, "Ouch!"
The other "What?" and when the one says "I said
'Ouch,' " the other says "All right, you needn't shout."
Deucalion and Pyrrha, Darby and Joan,
Philemon and Baucis,
Tracy and Hepburn--if this can happen to Hepburn
No one is safe--all rolled up into two,
Contented with the cottage and the cottage cheese
And envied only by ambitious gods . . .
Later, over coffee, they compare the backs
of their hands
And conclude they are slowly being turned
But nothing much surprises them these days.
From "A Howard Nemerov Reader" (University of Missouri Press: $24.95; 534 pp.). Although Nemerov is known primarily as a poet, he also has published numerous novels, short stories and essays; the full range of his writing is represented in this volume. 1991 Howard Nemerov. Reprinted with permission.