Friday, August 9, 2013


When I call myself, I whisper Orfeo.  Before me my hands reach, fingers spread, elbows locked.  Eyes, chided and fearfully tightened, create a dark as deep as Hekate's Supper.  It is this dark through which my hands reach.  I stumble to and from the land where the dead walk.  I am the spectre of the dead.  I stumble to and from the spectres of the dead. I am their pantomime.  On my shoulder a hand rests.  My eyes are tight and lidless.
Through a fog days pass.  The basement stairs are the corridor of escape.  They spiral upward and out.  I can hear the report of my footfall.  I can feel the pull of the hand on my shoulder.  In the darkness I lift my feet from step to step.  I whisper my name, Orfeo.  The railing of the stairs is cold steel beneath my  hand.  Each step is the resonance of my chest.  The warmth of my breath from my lips slips away in the sound of the stairs.  The hand on my shoulder is cold and still.  It weighs on me as I climb.
My eyes are taped shut.  Wide bands of silver tape stretch across my face.  My hair is caught in the tape against my temples.  My hair pulls at the tape on my forehead.  Sweat cools on the skin surrounding my eyes.  It runs over my cheeks and drips from my jaw.
The stairs continue.  Each landing turns to the right.  I do not have memory of so many steps.  Walking down I flew on light feet.  The climbing is now colder.  The hand weighs on my shoulder and it is also cold.
I will not see the owner of the hand.  I will not turn my head and look upon the face that follows me.  I will climb the steps secure in my darkness until the warmth of the sun falls on me.  Then I will take the hand in mine.  I climb one foot after the other.  I feel my name over my lips.  Orfeo.  In the sunlight I will sing.  I will carve the day with my name.
In the quick second between footfalls a breeze touches my ear.  My spine stiffens every hair to salute.
"These are the moments you will cherish in silence.  Know that each blind step takes you farther.  The voice you feel in your chest will soon tear through your broken throat and the fevered Maenads will circle and dance through your remains.  Blood will stain their feet like juice from the lagar."
"I will at least have you."
"In the running river waters you will think back on this time.  You will think of your courage and your voice, the tears of the gods, the surety of your hands with music, and the cold weight of my hand on your shoulder.  There will be nothing left of these moments."
"Still, I will have you."
"There will be nothing left of your songs, nothing left of your prophecies.  Time will dry your scattered bones and they will be trampled into dust."
"Say your name."
"You walk in darkness without the comfort of your name.  You walk with your eyes hidden and sealed."
"I must not look behind me-"
"You walk in darkness.  The darkness comforts you."
"I climb the steps from the land where the dead walk-"
"You move in circles and hope you are climbing."
"I bring my love from the depths of death-"
"You walk with the hand of death on your shoulder and your song forgotten on your lips.  The Maenads circle around you.  They dance with silent bare feet.  Their hands strain toward your neck as they turn.  You feel their fingers against your skin, their nails dragging and stretching the flesh.  The blood weeps and flows.  The circle hastens and the hands pierce ever deeper.  There is no pain, but a sound.  It begins in your throat and rises with the pace of the feet surrounding you.  It rings in your mind stronger than the cries from your body.  In its din the hands snap and tear against you.  Your blood is warm and spreading on the ground.  They are smiling, stained and twirling.  You are raining upon the dirt.  The cry between your teeth shatters its pitch and fails.  The hands fall upon you tightly.  They pull outwards as they spin.  What was once a man is nothing more than foreign shapes littered about dancing feet and the dirt and the cooling wetness."
"I am a man, not a shade."
"You are the memory of a moment."
"I climb the steps from the land where the dead walk."
"If it pleases you to walk, do.  If it pleases you to climb, then we may climb."
"I bring my love from the depths of death."
"Say your name."

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