Achilles Heel

No one is impervious,
however hard our surfaces
there is always some forgotten
patch uncovered, missed
by the water,
the one place held
while the rest dangled
underwater in the Styx,
became numb,
marbled stuff of legends.

in touch with the air,
it breathes
in, out...
in, out...

it calls for the hand
of the mother
who taught him
these lessons.

it calls to water
where it was left dry.

it will be his downfall,
but it is necessary,
this one small place of contact
that can be cut, killed,
pierced with spears and arrows.

it breathes,
and this is necessary.
one can only cover
so much skin
before the poisons
of day to day accumulate,
bang at the pores like panicked
theatergoers in a fire.

when she finds that spot,
late at night in the camp,
running her hands along
the sinews of his arms and legs,
when the armies are asleep
and the bards have ceased noticing,
he will turn in his sleep,
in shock, in pain, in ecstasy
and cry in her arms like a baby.

in that moment, she knows
they now belong to each other.
when a man cries
in your arms, it can never be
taken back.

she knows she holds the spear
that could be his undoing,
the dagger that finds its way behind
the scales of metal,
the shears to strip his power with his hair.

she knows she holds
all the responsibilities
such weapons entail,
feels the bowstring taut
and willing balanced by
the stretch of her bicep
as she strokes his brow
and mends the minor tears
in his cloak...

..and this unreleased arrow
will bind her to him
more surely than
even love could manage.
perhaps they are the same thing.

there is a balance to them,
eyes animal bright against the darkness
of the canvas tent,
both knowing the weapons
are ready and sharpened,
laid out before them on the bedclothes
as if to invite their usage,
that in a struggle
neither would survive

they will make love
in a tangle of coarse blankets
with an intensity belied by silence
until they collapse
into each others satin skins,
slick with water in the stygian stillness
that breeds before a battle,
neither speaking of heroes or legends.

every king requires a sword
to win his kingdom
and every sword a scabbard
with its own wisdom,
never one without the other.

that night all the soldiers
dream of going home.

there is a balance to them,
a sharp, parting line
trod between extremities,
knowing that there is
too much to lose,
that no one
is invulnerable,
however well
we hide
our parched,

Lea C. Deschenes

Back to the Astrophysicist's Tango Partner Speaks