Very well!’ he taunted, `If you rate my thanks so low, accept a gift!’ and turned his face away and on his left held out the loathsome head, Medusa’s head. Atlas, so huge, became a mountain; beard and hair were changed to forests, shoulders were cliffs, hands ridges; where his head had lately been, the soaring summit rose; his bones were turned to stone. Then each part grew beyond all measure (so the gods ordained) and on his shoulders rested the whole vault of heaven with all the innumerable stars.
~ Metamorphoses, Ovid
It wasn’t the weight of the world or anything
like it. It was the weightless space between,
the nothing, the void, the days of waiting
and longing that bore down on him
like so many burning stars. The planets
wove their weary circles, the dust fell
together and fluttered apart.
He was a pillar without a monument,
the Aegean emptied and yearning.
He held his arms up in despair, his hands
barren, his feet numb and aching and always
the night fell between his outstretched
fingers, dark and beyond touch.