Child of the Sea, Tethys’ Daughter

Orpheus speaks only in flames and I only in stones.

Bone-dry and knife-edged the grass in the world of things. Curl your thumb and make fangs of your fingers: a snake’s mouth. Smoke on the horizon, the width of a forest. In the hard fat of a heel fingers meet thumb. Eurydice falls to yellow earth.

Hell is a river called Ocean with no sky above and no bed below. Choose a direction and strike out; move south, then west, then south again. All ways return you here. Brown and waving, rich with pipefish, vibrant with nudibranches, mute with sponges. I speak in the language of things, a tongue of fire, teeth hollow and venomous. Weeds rattle like sabers, like teeth loose in a gourd, like worms suffocating in a cheese.

Orpheus above never remarries, never sleeps alone. Red-rimmed the mouths of the women, dark and stormy the eyes of the boys. He falls to the earth, the yellow earth, dry of music, empty of seed, one little death among many.