Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Hephaestus as Midwife

I prefer the steady growl and even temper
Of the furnace to Zeus’ wounded howls,
Rumbling the depths of my mountain,

And would have remained in my workshop
—Hermes’ plea be damned—but my chisels
And tongs began clattering to the floor,

And I can’t abide the clutter. Above, looking
For the king, I find a nerve-shattered mess
Writhing on the floor, forehead bulging

With the thrust of spear and helm,
Fingers worming beneath his cheeks.
I force a fine cypress wedge in his mouth,

Take pleasure in parting his teeth like pebbles
Before a ship’s grinding prow. Does he note,
Through his agony, the wood’s faint stag scent?

Its taste like grief on the tongue? I shoulder
My hammer and glance at Mother’s stony face,
Hold her stare as the iron head falls

And my sister strides forth into the world
In damp-slick armor, as Zeus’ cropped skull
Rolls across the tile like a melon rind.  end  

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