In the weeks leading to his arrest and sentencing, rumours circled the City: the old man was fuming, he was after blood, someone would atone for his embarrassment. Even the poet heard stories he shouldn’t have.
When the sentence was delivered, he was given eight hours to attend to his affairs, pack his bags, say his farewells and depart. Those hours passed in frenetic activity; things were hurled into crates, loans called in, patrons and clients similarly dismissed. Like all men in crisis, part of his mind stood aloof, waiting for the joke to be revealed, waiting for time to slow down to its quotidian pace ... for the reprieve. Another part of his mind argued with the disbelieving part and harried the panic: the part that preserves skin at any cost.
The hot afternoon closed, taking the swollen sun to deserving rest, washing the cares of the day from its radiance in the soothing waters of the river of dreams, of sleep and renewal: Tethys.
Ovid had one minute to note the brilliant moon arching into the sky like the back of a snowy sacrificial bull, rising to join the gambolling lambs who drink the nectar of the milky night. Time frozen in starlight.
For years after he remembered that teetering moment between exile and home, day and night, citizen and banished.
Ovid knew his error
heard the sentence
banned from the radiant State
I can only guess
furnishing the usual crass unknowing