Volume 3 Number 2


Spring 2005

The Strong Man

Anne Marie Jackson

It's easy to be virtuous in a desert of temptation, but let a sweet rose blush in the barren sand, and see if you won't pluck it.

He bears a massive boulder upon his shoulders. A boulder. A rock. "Tain't naught better to do," says he, but he doesn't shrug. Instead, he gracefully shifts his iron musculature and rolls the vast round rock on his shoulder forward, just a little forward. Oh no, he doesn't shrug, for the rock on his shoulders is much too big.

There's little to do here but gaze at the stars, all those delirious dancers. Even if he relinquished this rock, he could never reach those stars. Look, but do not touch. Delirious. Dancers. His eyes dazzle. But he does not shrug.

A star explodes. Or a star is born. 'Tis hard to know, and he's seen many. The milky flutter of shattered light and matter. Between him and the great golden chalice of mead, a star explodes.

What's that he hears? A voice? It's been so long. What does a voice sound like?

It's honey and sugar all whipped up together, and it says to him,

"Whatcha doin', big boy?"

And the milky star spots seem to twirl in a smaller and smaller space until that space becomes solid and grows curvy with red lips and pink tits and sparkly eyes. The milky star spots seem to turn into a voluptuous woman wearing a life jacket who says again,

"Whatcha doin', big boy?"

He bears a massive boulder upon his shoulders, and no, he doesn't shrug, for the rock upon his shoulders is much too big. But he feels a movement somewhere long forgotten, and the burden on his shoulders suddenly grows intolerable. After all this time.

"Whatcha doin', big boy? Why don'tcha come up an' see me sometime?"

And the rock falls.