[Note: Originally published in Refuge: Tales of Myths and Magicks. Reprinted with permission of the author.]
The poetry contest.
He could hear – all over the island – the studied, measured voices of the choruses, raised in praise and song. He could hear the lone orators, perfecting, honing their words – this turn of phrase, that inflection. He could see – but not hear (for which he was thankful) – young Samos down by the shore, practicing in what he called “the time honoured manner”. Perhaps someone should explain to him the difference between pebbles and sand ….
He, himself, had nothing to practice.
Or rather, nothing worth practicing. The clay was worn thin with his scribblings and smoothings.
And his hearth remained warm from the serried offerings.
Yet the Muses turned away … and his voice was silent.
He laboured – he battled his thoughts, his desires, his heart.
He had never won at the Agon – but he knew – he knew – that he could make an offering worthy of the greats, worthy of the gods.
If only .…
His head, gravid with the unborn beauty of words, fell to his chest, and his hands slipped their hold on the chair .…
And he knew….
Passion beyond all understanding
Colours more vibrant than the eye could understand
Sounds too beautiful for the ear
Love that surpassed the human heart
Deeper than the darkened realm.
And over it all, the sonorous voice,
He won the Agon that year.
And every year after, until he withdrew, to let the young ones have a chance.
But he would take no praise.
For in the end
All that he gave them
was the detritus of dreams.