In the Middle of Maize Country

Omar Sakr

I have no body.
I know there is meat somewhere
small oceans of bloods
so much more than one
coursing over coral bone
a long thin skin barely holding
The stink of rotting
floats in the dark like oil on water
spoiling everything. Sometimes
I worry the carrion smell
is not mine.

Memories bloom here like corpse
flowers, fragrant on the tongue, startling
colour. I have a body again, thick
hair, hard muscle, and a longing
pulsing through it as I watch you

dance on the beach, tempting waves,
tempting gods, tempting me.
Your features ripple, robbed
by time, but I can still taste the salt
crystals on your skin, the give
in your lips.

I have been formless so long I dread
this may be no more than a dream.

I am spread all over this valley,
a million walls, a million thoughts
like: did you know a blue whale is
so large a man can swim in its veins?
imagine the immensity
of a beast    like that, I feel you
swimming in my veins
more real than any body I had.

I recall the maize country, fields
unrolling to the horizon & our feet
brown and dusty, ears of corn above
us like sheltering hands, our bodies
contorted together, busy inventing
a whole new language of need,
never coming to the end of it,
always finding another word
for us. Nothing can take this away.

Sweet Theseus, I fucked you
in my father’s crops, I reaped
the seeds planted in your bloods.
I was a young god, untouchable
until you touched me, then I was un
done. I sang a song of escape
but you wouldn’t hear a note
said your family was the jealous
type, their love a deadly maze. I said
mine would lead you free, but you
made a liar of me. Theseus

what was it about your sister’s bed
you found so sweet? how often
did you flee your father’s touch in her
arms? did you make the same words
as us or was this some older, darker

tongue? I wonder if you even know
where I am now, or how Ariadne
found me after you left for work,
a fever in her bloods, calling me
monster, ugly stud ready to pasture.

It wasn’t until she cut my skin
I saw how deep you’d gone in,
wasn’t until I was spilling into earth,
into cotton and wood, I could see
my blood was more than mine:
my mother’s, my father’s, & yours,
an ocean comprised of many rivers.
This is what you need to know:
even if one is blackened with oil,
you are more than that poison.

I must confess I didn’t die easy.
She underestimated the strength
it takes to kill a bull. She roped
my butchered body, dragged it
into fields grateful for the gift
of my waters, my steaming flesh.
The gods watched on with glee
as I rose, half-dead, half-beast
tearing away her tired yoke.
I’m afraid to say I proved Ariadne
right with animal screams, the way
I kicked in her head.

We lay together in the end,
she and I, beloved and dying,
bodies contorted, busy inventing
a new way to grieve. A million walls,
a million thoughts took root in leaf
and branch and stone, I remember
now. I wonder if you’ll ever find us
deep in this maize. Look, sweet boy,
beneath your bed, I left a clue there,
a seed, like so many in this valley,
a long and winding thread of flowers
that will bloom if you come searching,
like sheltering hands over brown
boys naked in the dust, men in love.

Be careful if you come, Theseus.
Here lie monsters.

Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet. His poetry has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in ​Contemporary Australian Poetry, ​Strange Horizons, Meanjin, Overland, and ​Mascara Literary Review, among others. He placed runner up in the Judith Wright Poetry Prize and his debut collection, ​These Wild Houses, is forthcoming from Cordite Books (2017).