And hung there, uncooked meat in his teeth,
muttering Hosannah. Hallelujah. Mea culpa.
And pressed back by the welts in his palms,
ragtag red lions raised on his skin.
But lamented his suffering aloud to the Lord,
who hears the human body as an instrument.
The dried blood, tangle in the thatch of beard,
matted like sap above cuts in the lush garden of chest.
The trembling at mouth's edge, the weak-knees,
the weak-lung, neck-droop, the voice and knell.
Would not have sung louder wearing thorns.
Would not have sung louder in limp robes.
How colossal the error. How dire. How divine
a breath, a breath, a breath, a breath.
Cursed early, at Chiron’s cave,
taught to hunt by a half-breed
betraying the better half, slave
to the human part atop the steed,
Actaeon’s arms grew strong, stable
with a bow. But Chiron’s legs
remembered, like deer or sable,
twitch and danger, a reflex
triggered when he held a bow
which Actaeon could not affect.
How could Actaeon not know,
how could Chiron not suspect
his wedded body, man to colt,
would betray his conscious mind,
the hunted, galloping part revolt?
Actaeon, deep-forested, hunting hind,
came across a bathing goddess.
While Artemis looked away,
Actaeon could sense nothing amiss:
his legs, his whole, bid him stay
where Chiron’s might have felt the nag
of instinct. Nude Artemis,
for his stare, made Actaeon a stag,
his tongue mute to reminisce,
his new hind legs tense for flight.
He sensed what Chiron never taught
as he slipped into the Parnithian night
on slender calves too easily caught.
The views expressed in The Oklahoma Review do not necessarily correspond to those of Cameron University, and the university's support of this magazine should not be seen as an endorsement of any philosophy other than faith in -- and support of -- free expression. The content of this publication may not be reproduced without the written consent of The Oklahoma Review or the authors. © 2008 The Oklahoma Review