Prometheus by Pamela Manasco
Shackled I stand, sag, faltering
as my treacherous ankles buckle
under the weight of the sky.
Never before have I known
the oppressive hang of clouds or
muffled whispers of crashing
waves singing, “pity, pity.”
As soon as the sun breaks
the horizon the eagle comes,
man-sized, arms stretched wide.
Wingtips feather my skin
before the beak spears
my belly. And every time
it feels the same; the pain
never dulls. Bits of liver gulped
down the bird’s throat,
the pause between each bite
as though he savors this delicacy
of god-flesh. Sometimes,
when his palate is sated and feathers
burnished russet, I speak
to the river-eater Ocean,
and try to explain fire to him.
In return he tells me of death,
the way waves wash over a body
and drag it down through seaweed,
skin molting, tiny flakes winding
through water to settle
on the sea floor. I can imagine
the bones, stripped by fish,
gleaming like porcelain.
But still I cannot contemplate the
end, when flailing arms cease
struggling and begin their
mad windmills, lifeless,
toward the deep.