Dionysos and Hermes

by Phillupus

I remember back when I snatched him from heaven’s fires;

into Nysian nymphs’ hands I conveyed him

when as a goat he was saved from Ino and Athamas;

but never have I seen him in a sadder state.

As ever, he is young and beautiful,

the desire and object of every eye that beholds him,

his long blond-streaked hair glistening,

people calling him “Miss” despite his dark stubble.

I look at him now through strange eyes:

in foreign flesh he resides, trapped, unknowing.

I am older, taller, nowhere near as thin,

a Silenos compared to his slimness,

I am balding like the Gaulish Ogmios

yet still as skilled in speech and quick-minded.

He wears a green shirt without sleeves,

the name of some rainbow-lettered cocktail lounge on his breast;

he is a slave to dragons, to liquids in bottles,

he stumbles not knowing the depths of his blindness.

Not even the Great Mother can cure him

of this blindness, twice as dangerous as Hera’s madness;

I must take him to an unknown spring

where, bathing, he will have his sight restored.

But he fears swimming, and sitting behind a car’s wheel,

and he has no trust in fit fleetness of foot.

I have seen how he might be healed,

his blindness restored to the rejoicing of all,

how his dancing feet might float upon the winds

and make prison doors swing wide open again.

I know what words will be in my mouth

on that festival when he returns to his senses,

how these lips will say “Do not give thanks to me,

rather thank the gods who have made it so.”

He will lean on a new thyrsus of freedom’s hues,

with lights shining for the illumination of many,

like a new Pharos guiding the sea-tossed ships

safely into welcoming ports of celebration.

But those revels are far in coming,

for he has forgotten his deepest nature.

Ever it has been the theme of his drama:

those who refuse the god are destroyed by him.

Dionysos has left the body where once he dwelt,

even as my awareness departs this borrowed one.

I lament for the loss that none will know has happened,

how the world has been deprived of a new Dionysos.

The blind and doubting shell left where he lived

will only be valued for his phallic endowments.

He has drank the grapes, but in being crushed like them

he has not fermented and found new life as spirit;

he has refused the cup, while overindulging the drink,

and his screams while being stomped have been lost in the noise.

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