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Starlight for Orion
A poem by Andrew Liu
This was the story, that she betrayed you,
that you betrayed her, broken vows, both sides,
both trapped in the same falling coin. I wanted
to pull you out of there, as she, that callous hunter,
left you, this callous hunter, dead from
what was it? The sting, the poison?
Blood loss? I cannot even fathom
how that body of yours, once
so resolute it strode shoulder to shoulder
with mountains, arms big as tree trunks,
a chest broader, more powerful than the sea,
could become the lifeless earthwork before me.
I did not wish to see you. Not like this.
This was the story, that they betrayed you,
that it was the earth mother, that it was
the jealous twin brother, that the scorpion
whose master changes hands depending
on the teller of the tale, was only obeying
a higher instinct. Well, that doesn't mean
I didn't smile as my hands aged, withered,
rotted its slanderous body, those sleek scales,
the chitinous armor turning to eggshell
in my hands. I admit, it was wonderful
to feel vengeance's cruel glow
illuminate my hollowing forms.
But that was only half the story:
Copper wire, bronze eyelids, what remains
of your first love, this tribute
to a king of a land made savage with beasts.
Hephaestus, that old cripple with a heart like
sun, fixed you up with vision, a thousand
whirring gears, only a thousandth
of a centimeter wide, churning, turning,
nerves aligned with nerves, wired
like a clock to dynamite. He didn't know
how soon you would become
a monster, the monster
you were fated to be. How those
clockwork eyes would become
the unblinking ommateum
to a swollen horde of resentment.
But, that wasn't it. That wasn't the you
I had known. In my version of the story
it was the sun who took pity
on you, who had become sullen,
hopeless, with eyes as placid as milk.
Then warmth, celestial, spreading
all over your face as that old soft-heart
kissed you, chased your blindness away.
In many ways, it was a lie. In others,
a peace offering.
In the story after the story
I met you, then, wrapped up
in your hatred of the girl, her innocence.
Her loss overshadowed by yours. Too much
for one heart to bear. The Underworld
roared from the magnitude of your suffering.
I pulled you closer, whispering:
Do not go where I cannot see,
into the dark I cannot reach.
Please. Remember my suffering.
Remember my hand reaching out.
To grasp at nothing.
And into the world I had created
out of your suffering, the broad trees,
the endless fields, the world, empty
of all sans you and me. I told you,
“Chase me. Hunt me down.
And if you catch me
you will know. And see.”
So we ran. Into the dense,
soundless trees. Their faces,
whole bodies of nothing
but green noise. I felt you coming after me
through the lush, rain-kissed world,
tumbling over branches, flying
like the light of a thousand springs.
I never wanted this to end, the chase,
the leaves, the light! Your heart
beating just the same as mine in flight.
You, flying after, so swiftly over the roots
and branches, arms hanging loose, legs pumping
for their lives, as if even the trees, even the stillness
of branches, of hollow air, was after you.
Was something you wanted to escape. Your eyes
steamed with heat, piercing the air, following
each fired arrow, volley after volley,
so fast, each futile fusillade flickering as
I flowed like snow through your hands, melting
through the holes of your net, water-water
a nothingness like water, your hunt
meaning nothing to one as I, so careless, so effortless
and made of such silence. You
threw yourself through the dreaming forest,
wanting desperately, so fiercely, for
what was it exactly? That closed longing.
When your breath came shallow and fast,
the air blurred blue with wildflower and-and
all you could see was me, this fleeting figure,
rolling-rolling, a distant sun, a field
ablaze with flower and air.
You were so close, coming in
so fast, I thought, almost, for just-
a minute, I thought-
you would catch me.
came loose from my fingertips.
hand aligned alongside
this, some small scrap of self,
this brave baby explorer
of the space between you
And all at once,
it fell to you.
to have your
for me to
pull away. I
could not be reached.
You fell out of the dreaming world,
eyes ruined from sorrow.
But I was there, I was always there.
I held my hand out to you and
in your blindness, you recognized me.
And you fell on top of me, our legs
splayed like rose stems
after a wave of applause.
To be wrapped inside such joy
is to be embraced by this, the wide-brimmed sky,
the blue water, the endless fields of grass.
And I held you, a blue sky
turning to stars, night falling upon us
like a scattering of dream-spun light.
The dark shade in your hair dissolving
to sandy wheat, like grains,
like sun-sweetened heat. The bronze
melted off your eyes, coppery tears as
your heart broke loose, running fast,
flooding with starlight.
were the color
Andrew Liu is a 2020 MFA graduate of CSU Long Beach’s Creative Writing - Poetry program. He has published in two student magazines: East Los Angeles City College’s Milestone and CSU Long Beach’s Riprap. You can read his MFA thesis, California Metaphysics, which collects some of his best poems, on CSULB’s thesis database here. You can also view a recording of a virtual reading of selected poems organized by Andrew Liu and his friend Jesse Tovar on Youtube here.
Copyright © 2022 by Andrew Liu
Published by Orion's Beau
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