Stripped to the waist, with body oiled
and painted tips of budding breasts
alluring, yet I am unspoiled
by touch of man for none molests
the sacred female dancers of the bull.
Goddess-on-Earth our team salutes
as we prepare to do our dances;
we’re oblivious to the shouts and hoots
of patrons betting on our chances,
for when our team performs the Bull Court is full.
Limber and strong, we are seven boys
and seven girls brought as tribute to Crete
from other lands; we left the joys
of childhood behind and now compete
in the Bull Court with our bull, mean-tempered and fierce.
Knossos reverberates with cries
from the Labyrinth as our bull appears;
we gauge his mood for who missteps dies,
then approach and dance with him. Our fears
abate as we perform, though his horns could pierce
bodies not grown oh so easily.
Our dance is applauded by the crowd,
and now the focus is on me.
Though I'm the star I must not be proud;
I owe my life to the members of my team.
Eyeing each other, my bull and I,
we do the dangerous dance with grace.
I grab his horns and launch and fly
and somersault to outer space,
then land upon his back, my elation supreme.
Dismounting, I do another flip;
I'm caught by one who stands below.
He steadies me if I should slip,
protects me from the horns, from throe
of death. Euphoric, I bow—and still survive.
Presents will come from adoring fans,
the highborn ladies of the court.
They collect their bets while making plans,
seduction their goal; to them it's sport,
but we who dance thank the gods that we're alive.