Rhodopis, a myth

[I wrote this myth as a companion to Strauss’s Alpine Symphony]

Each star undrapes itself, suspended in jelly dust, unseeing as the day ends it’s performance. The curtain lowers, the button is silently pressed and the squid queen opens her legs, black ink shuffling out, covering the night, unspooling like small spiders scribbling black silk over every bit of sky. As the night bleeds, each star unfreezes, wrenching from its’ cold prism cabin, waiting.
He strikes a new match signaling the change and lights the first horse on fire. Fanning the flames, hundreds of horses awaken with fire in their bellies, tossing their fiery manes, their legs restless, their desire only to run, their singsong neighs populate the entire sky and they stamp heat into the core of the earth.
The horses siphon the spidery ink, inhaling the night as they run across the planets, their haunches taut, glowing coals in their underbelly, clouds leaping under them in waves.
She has been running for centuries but this gift is too much to bear, she stumbles… all hundred horses falling, disastrous domino effect, and in their place, the woman who houses them all, the one who dances and runs in fire, now woman, now sewn body of horses.
Covered in ash and soot, she faces the cold star-gods and Helios her titan and love, the one who pushes her on with whip and chains her to his chariot. She pleads to stop for a moment, a few thousand years. Take a break from this thing she was made for, this running she was born to do, lighting up the sky for all below to live and love by. Her incandescence a burden, her arms staggering under the weight of light she was born with. The star-gods numb to her request, Helios urges her on, the chariot and chains gouging her leathery skin, buckling her knees as she grovels for her freedom, the inky spiders escaping her nostrils as she sobs. A terrible night envelopes the world in her tears, a night multiplied uncontrollably…ebony tentacles perfuming the sky allowing her to slip away through the chains, through the clouds, falling to earth. Landing on desolate land, everything hushed, only the lonely croak of a bird or a frozen pipe creaking, everything impotent in this darkness.
The crawling spiders of night amass as the squid queen covers Rhodopis with darkness, shielding her from the star-gods cruel gaze, from Helios’ heavy chains. Rhodopis, finally free, shivers with pleasure, but feels spiders congealing over her eyes, limbs and heartbeat deadening as the squid queen does more than cover and protect her, as the tentacles probe her body and mind. She struggles fiercely to free herself from the thousands of spiders webbing her in, suffocating and stifling her. The squid queen shrieks, retreats as if by a sieve, her inky exhaust fumes evaporating with her, leaving Rhodopis naked to the star-gods and Helios.
She staggers upright, stumbling for shelter, a train of her own listless bowels dragging on the ground behind her. The horses in her awaken as the coal drops from her bowels, sodden miscarriages of matter and ash left on the farmland. She is emptied, lighter than she has ever been. As she despairs, wailing in her loss, she feels something rushing in her ears, a heat burning her cheeks. This anger, this heat spreads, inflaming her neck, her breasts, her belly. She is aglow, lit by the fire of her belly, flames licking the whole of her body…reveling and heaving in the heat, unchained, free to dance and run, tossing her mane and charring the land. In the fire, she comes back to life and remembers clearly the heavy chains of Helios, her other, the one who enslaved her and drove her to madness, and the squid queen, momentary protector until it wasn’t advantageous anymore. She takes these memories, ingests them in the fire of her body and sheds them, dust to dust.With one finger, she draws from her belly the fire made there, magic fire conjured by herself and she begins to shape with her hands a world for herself. Extravagant freedom in this world, written into being with numinous love and understanding. She gazes through her planet at the others, and see’s them in the clutches of darkness forever without her. Bleak misery with no escape for those living on the planets, and she see’s that her own freedom denies freedom to all others. The gong is struck. Each star undrapes itself, suspended in plasma, unseeing as the day ends it’s performance. The curtain silently lowers, the button is pressed and the squid queen opens her legs, milky black sesame tumbling out, covering every bit of sky. As the night bleeds, each star unfreezes, wrenching from its’ cold prism cabin, waiting. Despondent, she must choose between living with pain endured or pain inflicted. She drifts upward slowly and holds out her arms to Helios for him to bind, gives him her belly to light.

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