Monday, 13 November 2017

Born without horns:

It was fortunate for the Mother —

picture her,
sweat drips off Her pale forehead,
skims between swollen breasts,
hands clench wet sheets,
mirror the spasms and the agony
as they wrench linen.

The handmaidens
stand around, their glances when
Her eyes closed
tell of concern for Her plight

and then, of course,
that moment when the overly large head
finally appears, between quivering thighs,
then worse, the strange legs, bowed,
two cloven feet, absent toes.

from the novices, the matrons steely-eyed,
firm in their care,
their whispers will not begin
until they are safe in their own rooms —

with all that in mind, let us admit
it was fortunate for the birthing Mother,
in this case also the Queen, though,
with further consideration,
in the end, it was not;

a King cannot forgive
His Queen Her carless tryst, instead of matters of State
His mind wanders — was it
in the cow-shed, dung and straw for a bed,
behind the barn, and if so who might have seen,
in the open field, perhaps —
with a God Bull.

No matter how hard
the full moon pressed down upon the earth,
spilling white light
across the forms as they writhed,
the bull-god eventually spilling also, the King
is concerned with who did see;

but that is after
the images that haunt him at night,
the Bull-god’s palm (or would that be hoof?)
pressed between Her spread thighs,
bull-god’s blunt fingers
insistent, stirring desire;

did she drink hot tea,
blown first with twin lips (that still
slightly quivered with the after-ripples of desire),
then carefully sipped
in a summer stung by the scorpion sun,
so everyone is hot, bothered and itchy
with desire.

The King imagines She wiped away Her sweat
with the hand He has numerously held,
and hoped the aftermath
would not be smelt before She bathed

while the bull-god slunk
back to his true god form
and goddess wife —

truly she was fortunate
that Asterion was not born
with his horns fully formed,
the pain, so bad Her howls filled the island,
would have been nought compared
to the agony of two horns
making their way down her canal
and into the light. 

The absence of horns did not help Asterion,
however, for the hooves placed
where the feet should have been
gave away the fact that Midas
was not the sower of that particular seed —

and everyone knew
the bull was a form
favoured by gods
since gods immemorial.

The Mother, still bruised and torn
by the hard heels of her son
as he kicked his way into sunlight,
was slain outright.

It may even be
that she was glad; granted relief
from the haunting of that night.
Her body ached with the memory
of the Bull’s lasting embrace.

In most tales, then,
the monster is banished to the labyrinth,
there to spend his days
the way the King chose to slay

and eventually to be slain by heroic Theseus;

but sometimes
I imagine there was no maze,
no underground cave
and no Theseus; instead
I imagine Asterion banished
down the stone moss-drunk stairs
to a moonless, sunless cellar —

where water dripped
in taunting whispers and the slimy stone
drank itself dense with the indifference
of the earth; there to live out his son-of-bull-god days
chained to the wall, his food fed
between his thick lips, and placed
upon his fat tongue by young virgins,
pale-fleshed, stolen from other lands.

The females, to the King, served two purposes.
Their theft made other lands fear
the beast’s Father and the tips
of the girls’ slender fingers, when
they brushed Asterion’s flesh, especially his tongue,
their scent as they drew close,

their breasts
almost forced to touch his hirsute chest
and the fear that formed
in tiny beads of sweat
upon their innocent brows,
tormented Asterion —

his father was,
amongst other things, as considerate
as the gods in his punishment;
recall that Rock and other chained soul
and make your comparison.

No comments:

Post a Comment