Eurydice on Wangetti Beach

By Claire Hansen | 31 Jul 19
Alex Merwin

Don’t turn.

Her scent beckons, yes,
sending messengers ahead –
hooking tendrils finer than nose hairs
to bait your breathless skin.
Fragrant tentacles, they tug at you,
whisper-light and unyielding.
Beacons blazing, scouts spark warning flames behind your eyes.
Panting, you unbolt the doors for the invasion.

Eyes front.

Her sound is before you.
Thunder: slower than lightning,
but better, because you can see it with your eyes closed.
The muted imprint of her toes riding the golden skin of the sand,
just enough pressure to penetrate,
deep enough that you vibrate with every step.
One heavier: she limps
(the puncture of the viper
lingers even on the dead).
That wounded foot is connected to her legs, her thighs,
to the dark inviting underworld:
yours to slither inside when it owes you something
(it always owes you).

Eyes front.

Her breath must be the breeze
(the dead do not breathe, but you feel it),
trembling as it grazes her sunless skin, in unseen waves
assaulting your hot dry back.
The space between her breasts and your spine hums,
the energy of your desire a hungry lack
feeding on the gap:
Ouroboros, you follow though you lead.

Don’t turn.

The final curve of the beach is upon you.
She, dawdling, plays with Cerberus in the sand behind you;
throws three sticks, three cuttlebones, three soupy jellyfish,
counts the backs of turtles,
idles in white waves of asphodel,
laughs over the sound of your lyre.
In her bloodless hands she holds driftwood, bone-white,
carving elegant characters into the sand:
Noli me tangere.
For she,
– between the foaming lips of the sea
and the hot mouth of the earth –
is nobody’s, but, comet-like, blazes for herself.

Eyes front, you whisper to her. Don’t turn.

Boreas teases clouds across Apollo’s face,
shadows dull her uneven tread,
her body just an echo in your raucous mind.
Scent, sound, breath are snake-tongued;
their discordant voices are singing you around.
The space hums, buzzes, screeches;
this yawning chasm can be shuttered by your sight.
“Descend”, speak harbingers of your mind,
“Beyond where the gods place stop signs.
Across the river
where you forget yourself
and her body is nothing
but a shade to fill with your light
if you turned your light
to her.”

You turn.

The whip of your neck breaks hers | vertebrae shatter like sea spray | her last sound never reaches your ears | she is gone | flung back beyond your line of sight.

Cerberus sits alone on a silent beach.
Three tails wagging.
Waiting for Eurydice.