The Soldier's Dream 7
A Sacred Grove
The sun chariot of the God had risen to its zenith
and no breath of a breeze stirred the air. Father
Demetrios, as he did every day, sat in the shade of
the grove of cypress trees, sacred to Apollo, where
he, in fact, lived, he being the priest dedicated to
the God and serving his altar from time to time.
The truth of the matter was that Father Demetrios
did not much like killing the poor animals brought to
him for sacrifice, but it was part of his job and
there was no way he could get out of it. Another
truth was that he had come to doubt that the God
really cared all that much anyway. Actually, since
one must live somewhere on this earth, he rather
liked living in the sacred grove, and he liked the
young shepherd, Nikos, who usually put in an
appearance during the heat of the day. They
companionably passed the time chatting and playing
with the ravens, sacred to the God, who also lived in
the grove. They found it amusing to teach the birds
the most scurrilous and outrageous words. In fact,
Father Demetrios was delighted that he had
secretly taught one of the birds to say, "Fuck
Nikos, Fuck Nikos." He would then say, "Well
Nikos, I really hate to do this, but the God has
ordered that I fuck you." and playfully chase him
around the grove. Nikos would squeal with ....what?
Certainly not fear...laughter?
Actually, Father Demetrios had fucked Nikos
perhaps twice or three times, but really his heart
wasn't in it. Now, with Nikos father, when he had
been the shepherd boy in earlier years--that had
been different--there had been lots of fucking, but
time seemed to have banked many fires, so now it
was mostly a playful game.
Today, Father Demetrios noticed that Nikos had his hands full of large leaves and more
gathered in his tunic as we walked toward the grove. "Look, Father," Nikos said, excitedly, as
he sat down next to the priest. "These were just blowing through the grass and they all have
some kind of writing on them. I picked up as many as I could find--What does it say?" Father
Demetrios looked at a few of the leaves and felt an odd sense of recognition. Once, when he
was young, someone had shown him one of the leaves said to be from the Sybil of Cumae, who
was supposed to have written her tellings of things on leaves and left them at the mouth of
her cave for the wind to pick up and scatter over the world. In his memory, these leaves
looked very much like the one of many years earlier--but so many of them--and to be picked up
by this fool of a shepherd boy--(admitedly a sweet fool, but still not the brightest of boys.)
"What does it say, Father," said Nikos. "Hush, boy," said the priest. Give me some time to try to sort
them out in order." It did take him some time, but, when he thought he had them in the correct
order, he began to read aloud, for himself and for Nikos, who was seated on the ground beside him,
both of them leaning against the tree. It seemed to be a tale about a soldier and that terrible
nightmare of little boys' dreams, the minotaur. Slowly he read, sometimes having to sort and
rearrange the order, until it seemed to make an odd kind of sense. Both Father Demetrios and Nikos
grew increasingly engrossed in the strange tale and paid no attention, either to sheep or the passage
of the God in his fiery chariot on into the western sky.
As Father Demetrios reads, his voice increasingly grows more distant and a door opens before us and
we are drawn into another place, a place of darkness and curious shapes and echos, ......the Labyrinth.
Puo ben nascer tra li Boschi A noble soul and a royal heart
Nobil'Alma, e regio Core. Can well be born amidst the forests.
Da il natale la Fortuna, Fortune gives us our birth,
Sol'l ciel dona il valore. Only Heaven inspires valour.
E felice chi nell'Alma Happy the man for whom the bright fire
Prova lieto il bell'ardore in his soul brings success.
Georg Frederich Handel--Giustino