Theseus Within the Labyrinth pt.2
But nobody like Theseus likes a smart girl, always
telling him to dress warmly and eat plenty of fiber.
She was one of those people who are never in doubt.
Had he sharpened his sword, tied his sandals?
Without her, of course, he would have never escaped
the labyrinth. Why hadn’t he thought of that trick
with the ball of yarn? But as he looked down
at her sleeping form, this woman who was already
carrying his child, maybe he thought of their
future together, how she would correctly foretell
the mystery or banality behind each locked door.
So probably he shook his head and said, Give me
a dumb girl any day, and crept back to his ship
and sailed away. Of course Ariadne was revenged.
She would have told him to change the sails,
to take down the black ones, put up the white.
She would have reminded him that his father,
the king of Athens, was waiting on a high cliff
scanning the Aegean for Theseus’s returning ship,
white for victory, black for defeat. She would
have said how his father would see the black sails,
how the grief for the supposed death of his one son
would destroy him. But Theseus and his men had
brought out the wine and were cruising a calm sea
in a small boat filled to the brim with ex-virgins.
Who could have blamed him? Until he heard the distant
scream and his head shot up to see the black sails
and he knew. The girls disappeared, the ship grew
quiet except for the lap-lap of the water. Staring
toward the spot where his father had tumbled
headfirst into the Aegean, Theseus understood
he would always be a stupid man with a thick stick,
scratching his forehead long after the big event.
But think, does he change his mind, turn back
the ship, hunt up Ariadne and beg her pardon?
Far better to be stupid by himself than smart
because she’d been tugging on his arm; better
to live in the eternal present with a boatload
of ex-virgins than in that dark land of consequences
promised by Ariadne, better to live like any one of us,
thinking to outwit the darkness, but knowing
it will catch us, that we will be surprised like
the Minotaur on his couch when the door slams back
and the hired gun of our personal destruction bursts
upon us, upsetting the good times and scaring the girls.
Better to be ignorant, to go into the future as into
a long tunnel, without ball of yarn or clear direction,
to tiptoe forward like any fool or saint or hero,
jumpy, full of second thoughts, and bravely unprepared.