Living in the presence of Apollo

A dog roughs his tongue on cement
A callus rises. But words? Words are the reverse of pain.
Where pain is, no words are. Apollo loves words.

-Ange Mlinko


“The resonance of the final phrase depends on the prior description of Apollo as the god in whose presence it’s impossible to grieve, not because he overwhelms grief with joy, but by some process of bringing utter drought to it. It’s an indictment, in other words, and not any kind of praise.”

-Michael Gervasio on Ange Mlinko, 2014

I have been living in the presence of Apollo. Grief went missing but was not replaced by joy. Apollo saw to it that the sun-rays bleached out everything.

After a while, you trick yourself into believing that if you can’t see any darkness, it isn’t there. But darkness is always there behind the light. The light is the mask.

Apollo with his golden mask.

Grief is a wordless golden mask.

It always feels uneasy when the gods are fucking with you.  Not quite right. Not quite whole.  Gods cannot cure pain because they did not invent it. We mortals did. Not so much invent as require.

Pain is a warning. Pain is social control. Pain is the seed of healing.

Pain is the grain of grief that, when buried, sleeps tightly in a curling darkness and hears nothing. Until the sun, Apollo with his golden mask, oppresses it with a brightness that is not joy.

Out pops a trembling flower, a narcissus.

“Oh look at me,” it says. “I could not be born of darkness. My beauty could not be made from darkness.”

And the flower talks and talks until it learns to lie. This pleases Apollo.

But the flower has its own seeds now and each one speaks no words and each one mourns the darkness it has lost.

Leave a comment

Filed under poem

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s