The Gift by Helen Engelhardt

If I were told I could redeem your life
should I choose to die instead
would I have given you this gift?
Would you have let me go?

Alcestis did not hesitate to act.
She laid her life upon the altar
disappeared into darkness
and her husband was restored to light.

She did not know how the myth would end.
She made her choice and did not look back.
Her love was absolute. Mine is not.
It is shackled still by circumstance.

We were given our own story to live.
We were given history and chance.
We were not strong enough to prevail
against conspiracy and worse.

We were given silence; intimations
of terror as we drew apart. You cried,
"I don’t want to go! I don’t want to leave you!" -
and then I let you walk through the door.