by Diane Fahey
(On Titian's ‘The Flaying of Marsyas’)
Let witnessing Orpheus
play his violin — or cease to:
delicate fingers at rest on bow
tilted upwards, dream-eyes mirroring
some far-off darkness.
Stooped low, Apollo wields
the careful knife, ministering to Marsyas.
The satyr's arms curve in an illusion
of composure, halo his head, as if
to contain the sea of terror in his eyes.
His lips are soundless. No piercing cries
fill the woodlands save those of the dogs,
already eager. This is just the beginning.
From his breast, blood-seeds fall on to earth,
crimson the sweat of his face.
Marsyas hangs from the tree. What harvest
will be sown here? Utterly conscious,
he stares from the picture: fallen man,
aspiring man, punished beyond reason.
Among drained oak leaves, his flute sways.
Last updated January 14, 2019