‘Echidna’, Stephen Whitehead

Illustration © 2018 Eric Asaris

 [ Mother-ship, © 2018 Eric Asaris ]

The mother-ship breached the system;
Engines cooling in the void, her scaled skin
Rippled with the light of biological computations.

She had escaped a galaxy of conflict
Comforted by the gentle ministrations
Of her engineer-lover Typhon.

Snake, they had called him.
Traitor. For he had attempted to overthrow
The god-king on his lightning throne.

Together they had fled. They were not powerless,
For in her secret, cavernous bays
Echidna was capable of birthing a cure.

Together, engineer and ship toiled
And, extracting material from her core,
They started to forge giant fangs
In double jaws; piston powered.
A body of fibrous, grease-fed muscle
And a heart of star flame.
So Orthrus was born as guardian
Against the god-king’s excesses.

Glorying in their success, engineer and ship
Set to work again, this time adding
A third head, heavy with steaming teeth,
And a serpent spine, venomous sharp.
Cerberus guarded the secret underworld
With sibling helper, the multi-headed
Hydra – a snaking mass of cable whose
Carbon structures shimmered eternal.

Many more children grew in the guts
Of the great Echidna; her gift to the world
A barrier between arrogance and curiosity.

Birth bliss descended as her hope pushed forth through void.
And together, in peace, the pair
Breathed deep in hope and care.

But the god-king had no respect for hard-won life
And sent from his bright halls his sons
To crush great Echidna’s hopes.

And on their lips was whispered
That word so beloved of power
And with every scorching blast
Echoed the name of ‘monster’.

For they were the sons of humanity
And as laser light shredded necks,
So they trod the threads of love
With a whisper of ‘monster’.

In the darkness of their billion-mile cave Echidna and Typhon wept for their children.
No one else weeps for monsters.

© 2018 Stephen Whitehead

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