Illustration by Tahoor

Poem by Ashida D, Contributing Writer at The Sahar Magazine

“Souls on the Banks of the Acheron” by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl (1898)

As the hands of fate lurk in the dark,

just to creep around the neck

and there begins an exchange

between the eyes,

a moment left to wonder

about the stain that would be left,

or the life still left, I wept

for the birth of a dawn

where the sun didn’t kill all of me.

Because all of me was all that

was left at the feet of the sinner.

All of the ashes that were burnt

was all that I was made of.

It was as if pleading for justice

from the hands that corrupted,

all the glory of my days was lost to sight

and now times pass in vain and wonder

of new colours that are not ash and grey.

Like the promise of Ixion to Eïoneus for Dia,

I waited for the dawn at the banks of Archeron,

like the nobility that didn’t serve them

in the presence of the burning embers,

the hands didn’t loosen around my throat.

It was not the hands of the hunter that

were filled with scars of terror

and the blood that was bled

was not of the butcher,

but the judgment that prevailed

was of the goddess of wisdom,

not the cries of the innocent that were robbed.

The purity that was tarnished paid

the price for being pious, yet the one

to snatch the piety was as the secrets

of the Olympus at the ears of Tantalus.

-Ashida D

Editor's Note: Poetry receives us in strange ways when such torments fill us that couldn’t be put into words. It is in the power of myths and symbolism that we find redemption through the reification of these wordless, formless torments and, thus, culminate them. Ashida’s eloquent poem encapsulates one such torment, the battle between the suffering of the innocent and the yearning for judgement and justice. As Ashida elaborates:
“In the end when the saving grace doesn't show up, and all you believe is in the acceptance of what is in front of your eyes and not in the illusion of hope. Every sky has turned blue and grey, and waiting for the dawn feels like waiting at the banks of Archeron where life is not given but souls are taken away to the dark abyss of end, where there is no return. The words whisper at the back of your mind and haunt you for things that have never been. There's no turning back from the edge of the cliff, there's no punishing the sinner, and the judgment of the ones above you serves only their anger, not the justice deserved. Like the incompetence of Athena when punishing Medusa, nothing stopped the injustice from gripping the reality. But the sinners are left unpunished while the innocent pay the price, it seems like justice is only for the powerful. And all those who used the feeble roam without having to deal with the consequences like the secrets from Olympus that were let out by Tantalus.”