My ten-year-old brother was obsessed with God.
You see, our Dad was a preacher. Each bird
That flew was a symbol for the mighty
Hand of the Lord. Day didn’t think about love,
Saw only duty in the Gospels. The boy
Needed shaking up – or else he would fall.
Even preacher’s kids take trips in the Fall.
Veering through the emu-farm, Dad spoke of God.
Every so often we paused to let the boy
Reach through chain-link and stroke one of the birds –
Creatures very like the dinosaurs we loved;
Higher than we were, with fingered wings and mighty,
Angular claws. Their necks were also mighty,
Nearly as long as Day’s torso. He fell,
Giggling, when one large male lovingly
Exposed the blue hollow of his throat. A god,
That lightning-trickster, wore the mask of a bird
(High-flying eagle) to kidnap a boy.
Everyone on earth knows about that boy,
Young and gold-gleaming, that even mighty
Overgods lusted for. That numinous bird
Never wavered. His squirming plunder never fell.
Lust drew the boy to the home of the god.
Young men are often the prime prey of love.
So. Everything has happened before. Love
Hauled his body over the fence. The boy
(Incredibly frightened – of sin; of God)
Felt the remnants of an ancient strength, a mighty
Terror, press him to the needled ground. Falling,
The thought passed, ‘This is my Pentecost.’ The bird
Hacked and thrust – his voice throbbed like a drum. The bird
Emptied his feathered glory, his store of love,
Into my brother’s left pocket. He fell,
Replete, into a stupor while the boy
Sobbed. What happened to Ganymede when mighty
King Zeus tired of that offering to god?
Incredibly, this brush with the Bird-God
Never made Day frightened of love. The boy
Saw might and myth, reclothed, and did not fall.
(*This is an acrostic sestina. The acrostic reads, ‘Myths never change, they only shift their skins.’)
Bethany W Pope is an award-winning writer who has published several collections of poetry: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012), Crown of Thorns, (Oneiros Books, 2013), The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014), and Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014). Her first novel, Masque, shall be published by Seren in 2016.