from Issue #3: Poetry by Fiona Yardley

Photo (CC) Nikolay Korobko @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Nikolay Korobko @ Flickr

*

Asterion

Contrary to paternal expectations, he treads
gently through the broad underground spaces built to contain him. He
knows them like the tracking veins on the back of his
larger-than-normal, strong left hand —
the more dexterous of the two, four-fingered, more human — its
grimy cracked blackened nails chewed down to the
quick.

He helped to build his own prison, since
none can stand to look at him with anything other than
fear or revulsion — also, more practically, because the
corded muscles of his back and shoulders allowed the work to
go much faster. He takes solace, and refuge, in
puzzles of the mind, in the invisible tracking of geometric
proofs, and in philosophy.

There are several who trod these stone alleys, who
were surprised to encounter such a soft-spoken
bass-baritone, profundus in thought but not in the tenor of his
speech. He only roars when he is hungry, but the
echoes of those sounds of anguish are captured
and reflected, also to his father’s purpose, through
………cochlear horns
………carved by one of his uncles,
………to maintain the trepidation
………of the place amongst the
………crowding heroes and
………trembling maidens.

But when others are sent down to the sprawling maze,
built by the will of Minos using the brawn of his own
body, and his knowledge of recursion; well, he is
so starved for company and conversation that he squeezes
all possible knowledge from them before he
cracks their bones and, with the greatest reluctance, eats the
tenderer parts of their bodies.

He knows he is a monster. But he has a
set of pipes, made from hollow bones, which now and
then he plays; scant orphaned notes swim lost through the
heavy air, dank with rot and neglect, then they amplify
through the stone horns that guard the entry; and, for a while, the
teeming heroes with their lithe muscled bodies and their endless
thoughtless competition, amongst

the shrinking maidens, are struck by mournful thoughts and
wonder which musician, condemned by the king, wanders the
maze in spirit, for they regret his passing and the ending of such
beauty in the world, regret this sad and delicate music, then
curse their fear, which they have penned and call the Minotaur —
for only Asterion remembers his own
given name.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Fiona Yardley is a writer living in Sydney. She has previously had work published in See See MiscellanyHermes and most recently Overland. She has just completed a thesis in English literature on the topic of ethics and unreliability in contemporary fiction. “Asterion” 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. Another poem in this cycle, “Eros, Thanatos: Waiting for Orpheus” was published in Issue 1 of Contrappasso.

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