“And Bagoas Danced” by Karolina Fedyk

And Bagoas danced:
a shimmer
a supplication in the only language he had left
if his new king knew the words.
He pleaded
till snapping bones sinews torn useless puppet limbs
bare feet spelling out his dance in red
waiting for silence to replace
the restless war drum of his heart.
It could pump and bleed but would never fit
not being cut out for captivity
of flesh.
“My beautiful fool,” the king sighed
licking iron from his lips the dancer’s last breath in his lungs
the spoils of war he didn’t want but had to take
for kings are prisoners too
“And this—” the weight of lifeless body in his arms
“And this, you thought, would make you human?”

Karolina Fedyk writes speculative fiction and poetry about lost histories, found families, and futures born out of resistance and resilience. In 2017 their poem “What Wants Us” was nominated for the Rhysling Award. Their work has been published in Strange Horizons, Metaphorosis and The Dark, among others. They enjoy knitting, LARP, and looking for owls and kestrels.
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