I am a Guardian of the Labyrinth, moss dripping from my mane, dew sliding from the tips of my ears to encircle my steely eyes. I stand at the outer edges where the stars touch down upon their own reflection like the dancing flames of candles set upon a black mirror. I stand and I watch. With unblinking eyes, I observe the creatures that go in. Half human and half beast, with the beak and keen eyes of a falcon, the purple breasts of a woman, and the tentacles of a squid, or with the face of a lion, wings of a dove and penis and legs of a man. They wind around the ever spiraling path with its vine like curls, twirls and flourishes, its dead ends and invisible passages. Each twist and turn is a twist and turn into their own innermost being, their darkest depths, their giddiest heights. I see them walking their own unnamed corridors. I see them crawl through their own suffocating tunnels and I see them cower in their own corners. I see them stride fearlessly over their own burning pathways and watch them flee down their own decaying stairways. They take on their beastly gate from time to time. They can't help it. The instinct to preserve the shape most familiar to them, to degenerate back into the most elemental form they can conjure is overwhelming. At other times, they walk heal-toe like a human; the crown of creation, the assemblage point for a distinct universe. They slowly, cautiously, proceed to the center, to the pulsing flaming heart of the Labyrinth.
Some creatures do strange things in the center. Some leave small gifts. Some stand in silence. Some battle Asterion’s son with his fierce horns, and others lay cradled at the mountainous breasts of Europa, while still others dissolve like droplets of water sizzling away upon the surface of a hot cauldron. There are those that stay for a long time, withstanding the heat and myriad of fever dreams that engulf them. There are also those that are thrust immediately away, pressed back to the surface just as a splinter is pushed up and out of a body by layers of new skin cells. What they do in the center is what defines them. It is the crux of the pattern, the point from which they spiral out into the cosmos. The reverberations are far reaching, eternal.
Then, the creatures, half human and half beast, make their way out. The twists and turns repeat in reverse order. This time, the creatures seem renewed, imbued with confidence. Their footfalls are like the beating of a mallet upon a taut drum skin, rhythmic, orderly, assured and commanding of presence. They return to the world with the deep wailing of a blow horn, glowing like a new baby after the tangled cord has been cut and bloody placenta has been washed away.
Out of the Labyrinth come the creatures, each in their own time, each in their own way, the way that makes the labyrinth all that it is for them. They somehow seem whole. After they depart, the question whose answer has always eluded me remains burning within my breast. Is this wholeness because the creature is now fully human or is the creature now fully beast? Has one twin strangled the other in the primordial womb? Or is it, perhaps, that the two emerge as one complete being, a synthesis of the bestial and the celestial. A creature now fully human and fully beast.