When a man overcomes his fear of the dark
and resolves at last to journey down
into the dungeon of himself;
one tentative step follows another,
through ancient cobwebs and skeletons of dust,
till the damp floor of some forgotten cellar
meets him, as he shakes in terror
of the horrors that await him there.
Staring into this black hole,
the taste and smell of foetid life
tells him, with a shudder,
there is something here he has to face.
He thinks he sees a living shape
turning slowly – facing him;
the clink of chains on stone,
yellow sunken eyes, two points of light.
But no expected roar or threat,
only a whine of longing
and a wheezing moan of pain;
the man’s terror dissolves in shame.
With jolted memory and rising shock
he reaches out and frees that chain
HE HIMSELF HAD PUT THERE!
– the ‘manly’ thing to do.
He leads this hairy creature, up
and away from those lost years,
away from that banished place
into warm revealing light.
Who hides beneath that matted stinking coat?
who lives inside that wretched twisted shell?
will this man truly know what’s his,
in the homecoming that took so long.
But now at last to welcome memories,
to grieve and learn again
to love such softness within,
to savour such sweet innocence.
And so discovering at last
vulnerability and power untapped
inside that man’s impregnable shell.
– The beast had been a beauty all along.