Hephaestus
by liza bachman caruthers


for Michael

I said, pulling mine away, Take off your sunglasses,
and so he did and the icy floes met the warm, laughing fire

and yet

It was his hands perhaps
scarred, rough, a man’s hands
one quarter century of work or more building up each callous.

Then I didn’t know much except desire and pain.
In half a day he’d merged the two in me,
giving fused to taking, requesting, but somehow
never asking permission.

If you wait, I will bleed less,
but he said he liked my blood.
Tell me if it hurts,
but he drew my nails further into his warmth.
His face above mine
each line and long-healed mark became an engram,
fitting him into mythologies half remembered,

And despite what scribes and philosophers claimed,
the forge purified his beauty,
the scars and broken bones exposed
his unique lines and muscles
each celestial sinew and joint a place to rest the lips
to draw the fingers across.

Somehow, I knew he could stand amid the pantheon
and still possess my eyes,
be the sole whole being in a room of feeble hearts
and brittle minds

He towers above the other males
a force
a charisma of flame
as though he were the only man I’d ever known






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