The Lost Country

Spring 2013 • Vol. 2, No. 1

issn 2326-5310 (online)


By Maria Stromberg

This work was published in the Spring 2013 issue of The Lost Country. You may purchase a copy of this issue from us or, if you prefer, from Amazon.

Darkling the minstrel wanders
through paths labyrinthine
his bare feet over the seared earth
making no sound

There is no kindly breeze
to waft even a whisper
of the moon’s light
to his thirsting soul

In the stifling silence
he cries out, screams, bellows
to break the spell of deafness
on his ears

but all in vain
He begins to forget
whether his eyes are open
Hands outstretched
he feels his way
the rough stone tearing at his flesh

He wishes to turn back
but no longer knows which way
he is going
At the heart of the labyrinth
there is a monster
neither beast nor man
because it shares the form of both

The minstrel fears the sacrifice
but even more he fears the dark despair
of wandering pale and silent
in the black and winding paths

He prays for comfort
to the Muse who guides his song
He cannot hear the words
As he shapes them with his cracked lips

“Sing, Muse, Daughter of Zeus,
Memory’s melodious child,
Sing for me an escape
From this labyrinth of woes.”

These words he forms, weeping,
falling to the earth
and watering it with tears
With bloodied fingers
he feels the softness of a thread

No sooner does he take it in his hand
than his deafness is dispelled
he hears a voice
a faraway melody

that seems neither in the air
nor in the earth

and stumbling over rocks
with many a false turn
the minstrel follows that voice
the clear melody
that promises release from pain

But the further he walks
the deeper the labyrinth grows
and down into the earth
he finds no escape
only blinder darkness
and sharper pain

At the center of the labyrinth
lives the beast
with man’s legs and feet
and head of raging bull
that bellows out into the darkness
a scream of unbearable pain

It is the minstrel who screams
He sees himself
mirrored in the dark water
the head of a bellowing bull
upon his shoulders
his hands and feet bloodied and torn

Cursing the gods
he dashes his image
from the face of the waters
the salt tears running down
his monstrous cheeks
“Have you forsaken me,
Daughter of Zeus?”

When he has tired of weeping
and echoes of his cries
have faded from the long
windings of the labyrinth
he hears the song again

It is the voice of a woman
who weeps while she sings
a melody of sorrow and pain
of hope lost
of faith dashed to pieces
of love betrayed

She is standing before him
The rope that binds her
is the thread he holds in his hand
The bitter tears that stain her cheeks
are the ones he has wept

But her voice is unclouded
not harsh with cursing
nor bitter from long waiting

Her melody rings clear and sharp
like a knife’s edge

It pierces his heart with a challenge
and dares him face the monster
It beckons him forward
into the darkness of the winding path

Weary the minstrel rises from the earth
Was it a vision that he saw?

The darkness crowds around him unrelenting
and he cannot hear his own voice praying
but in his bloodied fingers
lies a thread as thin as a spider’s web
and strong as a woman’s voice singing

Darkling the minstrel wanders
through paths labyrinthine
his blind eyes open
searching for the light of the stars