Ariadne on Naxos

Ariadne sat on a rock in the cave,
watching as the sea washed past her feet
in silvery rivulets, and outside she heard
invisible maidens splashing in the surf.
She was all alone and going mad from grief
and oh how her heart longed for death.
In death she would meet her beloved
Theseus, slayer of the bull, who had set her free.
Death had claimed him, dragged him beneath the waves
while she was sleeping. That was the only explanation.
Her mind could not conceive of any other reason
why she’d been left all alone in this dark and desolate place.
Her Theseus had gone ahead to light her way into the land of shades.
And soon, she would see the torchlight and the baying of the black hounds,
as Hermes, death’s herald, came to collect her too.
But soon was not now, and the moments inched along,
each an insufferable agony, as if stones were being piled atop her,
one by one, making it impossible for her to move
or to breathe,
as she sank deeper and deeper into despair.
She had stripped herself nearly bare,
to await dread Kyllenios who would guide her beyond the land of dream,
and the castle of the Sun, to the house of Haides,
where her husband was waiting for her.
Only a white undergarment she wore as funereal wrappings,
wet and clinging to the soft curves of her dancer’s tiny frame;
the rest she’d discarded about the cave.
There were her purple robes, and there her crown with horns of the moon,
there her golden girdle and the ball of red twine she’d used to lead
gallant Theseus out of the labyrinth, and there, half submerged in the water
was a well-worked bronze mirror, upon its back
the first flowers of spring graved with wondrous realism by Daidalos.
Though she was too lost in grief to see it,
a hand was pressed against the mirror’s reflective surface
the young god desperately trying to reach through to soothe her anguish,
even as dark shapes with white faces crept slowly up behind him.