Eros. Thanatos. Waiting for Orpheus.
What is this hesitation? This cheerful face
questions his brother’s caution.
Eros touches; it is a beginning. It makes
him happy to do it, to fulfil his purpose
and spread himself thinner and thinner
though never to be less
than he is.
His touch is fleeting but haunting, the
touch of inspiration, a catalyst of people’s
creation of each other
and their finding of themselves.
He has never touched his brother.
what it would be like,
to take his twin in his arms;
him in his strong limbs, to kiss
his smooth cheek, his pursed lips,
the dark curls garlanding his brow.
His own hair shines gold in the sunlight.
They wait together, for that other
who has gone below—though the dark
one never yet touched him, laid a
finger on him, though that other
feels the shadow of the warm dark
breath—he thinks—on his ear—
It is a barren spot, all stones,
seem to crowd the place.
A sense of cold wind, though it is still.
The sky is too big, too empty,
an overturned basin
spilling the emptiness of space.
Thanatos tries to sense
that groping in the dark
toward the bright flame of life
He cannot make out what is happening,
what is to come. He keeps still,
close, contained within himself
while his bright brother strides about the emptiness,
his limbs long and clean.
Both have power in their touch.
Both inspire poets, differently.
One begins, the other finishes, in most stories.
They only touch in the mouths of the poets, who
need the light with the shade.
The last pure notes played by that other
before he went below
into the darkened passage
seem to echo through his dark ear.
He plays them over and over, tries to hold them,
though they lose some of their shine
with the repetition. Touch, for him, is an
They have waited,
amid unnumbered, crowding moments.
There is no time, here.
The other—flesh and blood
and tears, now—
though he makes no noise, the salt flood
slips down his cheeks—he is blind with grief—
he is alone.
He turns to them, an echo of another turn,
gestures sadly; helpless. It is so small, so slight a shrug.
the lyre at his side is stone; its strings
will sing no more.
Each brother believes the gesture
a signal to him only.
Orpheus returns to the world.
He is alone.
© 2012 Fiona Yardley
from Contrappasso Magazine #1, August 2012
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ABOUT THE POET
FIONA YARDLEY is a sometime writer living in Sydney’s Inner West. She has previously had work published in See See Miscellany, Hermes, and Tangent, and one of her recent poems is forthcoming in Overland. At present she is writing a thesis in English literature on ethics and aesthetics in unreliable narrative fiction, and spending far too much money on Book Depository. “Eros. Thanatos. Orpheus” is part of a series of poems she is currently writing based on Grecian myth cycles, reimagining well-known stories and characters and experimenting with perspective, interiority, and motivation. Previously she has written a collection loosely centred around weather systems and the sea.