Theseus: Black Sail

by Aidan Andrew Dun


The sun winks
from an apple-tree
at sunset.

He hoisted
the black sail himself
but what made
him leave?
A quarrel with
his father
no doubt.

I think of Theseus
first freedom-fighter
who took on the fixed
night singlehanded
who killed the customary
dream outright
killed his father also
and not by mistake
the old man always
babbling comfortably
another fair upholder
of all known ways
a civilized man with
an unknown quantity
just behind the visor
hiding, who campaigned
for youngbloods, hotheads
to pipe-down, stay put
cool-out in quick order
let things run their couse
in the Hellespont:
‘Leave that non-existent
minotaur to its own devices’
(That babbling smothered
in a black shroud.)

And the hero gazes
into the glass below
broken paragon, fallen star
one moment of forgetfulness
enough to shatter
the legend of ages:
He stares at the sea
flecked with his vomit
great captain of freedom
from the early ships
that sailed the death-island
straits in terror
with black at the masthead