Emily WappesJanuary 25, 2009

Bacchae

We are the Bacchae, driven, trembling and fierce,

by the touch of our god.

Discarding rules brought us power when we

danced our way in madness to the mountain.

We were freed from the dominion

of men, encouraged to do as we wished,

and for that we honored our god.

In a dark-purple sky the moon, russet-hued and low, lit our way;

the night was ours. Once a year the god called us

and bid us: do his work in lust and wine and careless revelry.

Though one dawn we would return, footsore and sated,

to our homes and husbands, for that time

the hills and the nights were ours

as we went dancing with our god.

It has been thousands of years

since we took up the call and ran wild in Boeotia.

Now, when the hunter's moon is large and low

those of us who still remain,

exhausted by more than just long hours

in offices, stores, and schools, leave

our houses and our husbands.

We prepare for revelry in our own way,

with black stilettos and long thin legs and shirts

the color of a fox's fur that cling

like fawn's skin to our shoulders.

Our cymbals from the past have been replaced

with hip-hop beats and synthesizer rhythms.

If we are lucky, sometimes our god still finds us,

drawn by our own erratic rapture

and the dances that tell our misery of living

with knowledge of a time long forgotten.

For a second, perhaps, we might find ourselves drunk

on the intensity of his touch, reliving

our former ecstasy.

But the sun must eventually claw its way back over the horizon

and bleary-eyed, empty of all but a glimpse of our god,

we return home.