Scylla and Charybdis


Scylla and Charybdis both stare at me without any trace of mercy. I am in the centre of a raging brutal sea from which I see no escape. I am in the centre of theatre, tragic to some and comic to others. It all depends on your strength of vision. Can you see the humour in my facing of death and doom? In other words, can you see what I see?

I’m wet, from top to bottom, but never touching a frosting state of being. Never loved anyone enough to feel cold. Never been loved enough to feel warm.

At least I cannot remember I ever did.

The only poppy I will ever have is the one laid down by me in this raging sea. I shall throw it off the very end of my vessel and let it decide which to lead. I shall follow it as it goes towards Scylla. I shall follow it as it goes towards Charybdis. Maybe the monsters will pity me; maybe they will respect the poppy and its weight of sacrifice. But what shall I gain with such a heavy freedom? If I live, my liberation will conspire against me. I will remain wet and worn out by circumstances, young but looking so old. A freak like Joseph Merrick, body mutilated by natural forces.

I want one of the ruthless monsters to take me, lay their grip on me, devour me with their saline seize. But where shall my red poppy go? My poppy, which I plucked before venturing on my current journey into death, I have kept in my pocket, dry and safe. Ten years have gone but its rouge still shines as it did off the shore of Heaven. As it was, it is and it will be, just as rivers always reach the sea.

I take the poppy out of my pocket, still so fresh, as if I had just plucked it from its roots which are entrenched within me. But no, my flesh does not feed the roots. In the centre of the vessel, I drop the red poppy on a colossal wave. Follow the passionate inanimate, my heart tells me. But in the centre it stays, diverting neither to Scylla nor Charybdis, calming the sea as it neared them both. I stand confused. But to the centre I go, following the unbelievable.

Yet I tend to forget. Scylla and Charybdis, both once beautiful maidens punished for their beauty, and they shall both ravage me equally.

Any decision is death and there is no redemption. I row my boat without hesitation. I follow the poppy without any expectation.

I slowly go towards the womb of my destruction, following my now-wet but still decisive poppy. I am the martyr of my own will. The poppy replaces my sword which cringes and shrinks in fear of the water monsters awaiting my boat. I do not cry out for life.

The sky becomes bleak and the waters dark. I hear the monsters. Hark! A moan, an eerie whimper, not my own; of two beasts not shown; dark waters rise split by my destiny, nature’s own blasphemy. I blindly apprehend what lightning shows for one second.

Scylla and Charybdis fight over me. They create a gap in the sea, and my poppy floats towards and through the gap, and I follow it. The leviathans busy themselves with each other, while I, greater than Odysseus evade them. But what for? I have no Ithaca, no home to call my own. My Penelope has gone away long ago. Why do the monsters fight over a soul with no abode?

Hark! Monsters! Hark! I am here, betwixt thee and thee! Release me from such misery, from homesick memories and inglorious histories. My poppy I let go, if you take me, I shall hold no scorn, for know that you have released a soul forlorn of love unborn, and from a body long mourned. Your quarrel does not fix this dying soul, but my body can fill your hole.

The bleak roars waned to welcome a thirsty and thunderous silence. The poppy faded from sight and the split sea merged again, hopeful and violent.


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