Emily WappesJanuary 25, 2009
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.