And Hephaestus Held Me
by Belinda Roddie
You kept your hand buried
in my hip. "I am the Other,"
you whispered into my ear, and
the tinnitus started up like an alarm
going off in my brain. I could taste
your immortality on my tongue. Wine
and smoke. Your legs folded in a crucifix
against the skeleton of your wheelchair.
Below the awning, we caught the glow
of a police car's blue and red eyes
as it sped right past us. Your grip grew
tighter, and suddenly the heat of iron
was in my mouth. You smelted
my senses, extracted precious ore from
each flaring nostril. You pulled a rotten
tooth out of my head and crushed it
under your wheels after it had tumbled
to the ashen pavement below. "You are
the Other," you whispered to me again. You
and I, we and no one else. Your enunciation glued
to my synapses. The breath of a blacksmith
burned my already puckered skin.
You took me from my father's shop then,
made me carry you up the fire escape
where snakes curled across the rails
of the balconies. Zeus's lips were parted
above us, and the rain coming down was heavy
enough to leave a dent in our shoulders and backs.
Here now, in the warmth of a foreign room,
my gum still aching from where you tore the decayed
bone beneath eroded enamel, you slithered
your way into me - stoked the coals within
my empty hearths, drove hammers
against anvils so powerfully that I could feel
the sparks. "Now we are the Other," you rumbled
in my ear. The Great Artisan was at work.
We were your finest piece yet.