Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Asterion's birth:

Instead of the two mothers on their knees,
the cold marble floor indifferent to their grief,
as their hands clasp the babe
and each claim the maternal right,
we have a single mother who stands aghast,
her lips, a wide circle of a shock,
her eyes wide also an attempt to dispel,
both hands forward hands open
as if she can manage to push away the horror,
behind her, the father who is not —
it is obvious from the facial features,
the hooves for feet
and in the room the bellowing;
a bull’s roar claiming god’s ownership.

And though it is a god
that has cuckolded the monarch
imagine the trembling
of mother and king (for different reasons)
their minds seared by the image
of the bawling babe.

Both condemn
the culpable affairs of the god
determined to maintain their own feeble control
over events that have spiralled away
as if both mother and king
found themselves within
a labyrinth of the bull-god’s design.

And surrounding this scene
of king and queen and new born beast,
the faces of humanity, a sea
that at any moment might rise up
and depose the king who cannot control
or usurp the child who cannot rule —
not with those feet,
those bull lips
that skull ready for the horns.

Is it a surprise to anyone, then,
the cave to be a prison,
the beast to become a powerful symbol
and all the tributes paid in full
in the flesh and blood of normal children
who have done no wrong except be born
without the influence of a god.

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