Wednesday, July 5

The Spoils of War

Cleopatra - The Spoils of War
I follow in shadow, my eyes averted from the light.

No rope binds me now, my hands have been given willingly. I follow in silence, my wrists need no tether. No ropes to bind. Not of red, the color of the blood upon my knees, from crawling in pitiful sublimation. Nor of blue steel, the color of eyes that watch and stare without mercy at the carnage upon the field.

In battle the spoils go to the victor, and what would the conqueror ask of me? To kneel and acquiesce? To take my own blade and, with all of the dignity left that I can muster, to throw myself upon its silver shaft and thus end it all? Broken. Destroyed. No more than a mere ghost amongst the wreckage.

Do I take the blade from you, when you lack courage to thrust it in yourself? Do I smile at you and thrust it into my own breast, as Arria did when her husband's resolve faltered. Do I show you how it should be done? Do I plunge it inside my own heart, and hand it back to you with a smile, saying, "Paetus, it does not hurt. It is what you are about to do that hurts."

I do wonder what Cleopatra was feeling as she pulled into the harbor at Tarsus, her sails full of perfume; a glimpse of thigh that suggested something far from the war that was on her mind. Did she see the futility of battling? Did she see her own certain defeat at the hands of a man more powerful than she could ever have imagined? And, in seeing this, did she feel the need to conquer? In the ways that a woman needs to conquer?

What did she feel as Antony slid between her thighs? What desire in this bold new lover, the conqueror of her own empire? All the power of lover and foe? Did she feel the powers of Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, Thebes, Syria, Assyria... Egypt... in the touch of his hand? Did she desire him thusly, as her conqueror? Or was this just some trick of the mind? That, although her defeat was imminent, she could still hold some power over this foe? Some ability to sway him, even if only by the pull of flesh, the passion of battle.

Did he realize that he was breaking the last Pharoah of Egypt? Destroying all that came before her?

What did she see when she gazed upon his face?
Is it the same face that every woman sees in her victor?
My lover, my enemy.
Ruthless, conniving and ever deceitful in his irresistable charm.

And did he sincerely believe that she would betray him? That she could betray him? The woman who took up arms to battle by his side?

Yes. He did. And brought them both down in his vengeance.

As we all do eventually.
Ruin perfection.
Ruin what could have been the perfect love affair.
We are doomed.

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