Only Mortal

Alexander and Hephaestion Alexander and Hephaistion, by Andrea Camassei (credit: wikimedia commons)

Alexander conquered
with burnished hair curling
like a great feline’s mane.

He rode
needless of shield
hefting a bloodied sword
in his right hand.

Yet, when Alexander
it was Hephaistion’s shoulder
he leaned upon.




A slave passing by the agora sees the marble face of the dead warrior he once rode with to battle. His breath catches and shakes. His knees tremble at its youthfulness and thoughtful stare, at the lips he once coveted and dared to press against one evening, soon after conquest had sparked a fire that ran its voracious course between them.

He turns away, ashamed at the calluses on his ankles where the chains cut him for months before he yielded. But when he turns again, heart aching, he finds the statue no longer wears the visage of his beloved. And he, who for a moment, was a man anew, returns defeated to servitude.