Atlas, Bound by Victor Marrero


And here he too is caught. The mighty man, the Titan. 
A noble crushed, enslaved as well. But even emasculated 
he steals the show. His physique overburdened
becomes a hunchback. Muscularity overwrought, 
grown weary by force, with age. He crouches. He arcs. 
His head half-formed recedes. Locked inside a hunk 
of uncut rock, he craves more space, as if gasping for air,
as if being devoured by a mass of stone his curved shoulders 
are doomed to bear, doomed to save. A turbulent globe  
swirls overhead. Maelstroms spiral down upon him
through pointed cloud formations. Yet braced on his back, unmindful, 
a thankless world levels off in equilibrium, if trembling still.


And here he stands, duty-bound as pillar and pedestal. 
Even undone he pivots the heavens aloft. For good or ill, 
his limits surpassed, his limbs spent on the line. 
He is stripped of ambition, crushed on exhibition,
punished by exile to set an example 
for the power of discontent. His abject life
stoops low to the ground, knees bent 
in genuflection, perhaps silent prayer, 
low to floor stones hardened to pleas for redemption.
A body once whole, a free spirit unruled, now taut by strain.
Now indentured to Earth’s immense fragility, 
he bows, humbled by mundane submission. 


In this show of strength, broad backs take a pounding 
like a seismic field interred in fractured rock. 
The titan in him absorbs the shock. Fractal chaos 
and terrors and ruins from the mass on high, 
strip his will of what, if free, he would become, 
while the tedium of incessant forced rotation 
makes the point of the gyroscope, 
pinning him down to a steady whorl of things. 
Unmoved, he strives to know why, to fathom what
binds him to his own confinement. Unmoved, 
he stays the course, restrained by inner strength, 
despite what he knows the power of latent force yields.  


So here he waits, as he must. And thinks as he waits, 
because he must. And because he must, 
he holds his ground, knowing he is trapped.
No way out of the snare. No recourse to let go. 
A servant condemned to serve, he has no choice 
to refuse a life of bondage. He wishes new vows 
of service, a turn for renewed devotion. 
But global chains defy him, band his chest, 
hold his orbit fettered like a planet’s rings. 
So he aches, and he seethes as he aches. 
And because he seethes, he rebels, silently,
defiant if secretly quelled by gratification.


So here he is, Atlas, bound. Here the mighty demi-god
is the display. Tortured being, wrapped 
and strapped. He casts strong will as model for justification, 
though caught in a rugged cycle of webs and spins 
in which weak links despair and succumb under stress, 
while the powerful grip harder and rage and struggle on, 
expecting word of deliverance no one ordained. 
Here fixed, his laden soul endures. Still, he joins the fray, 
entangled by honor, immured with dignity. 
Through the eons-long silence of heavens, 
through robust spells illusion contrives, 
creation keeps its captives bound, steadfast, in their place.

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