The Baths of Aphrodite

by Christos Polydorou

We need your name for security purposes
It’s Chris.
Lie.  You’re far too physically beautiful to be a Chris.  May we warn you that if we catch you lying again you will be ejected from these premises, impolitely, and permanently.
It’s Gorken.
We already knew that, because we are the third eye.  For us, the meanings of words and people’s faces aren’t muddled and our impressions aren’t watery and vague.  Even if you do not see yourself, especially in that situation, we can see what you are.
Did you mean who?
No, we didn’t mean who.  We meant exactly what we said.  What.
What’s in my name?
The map of your life.  The maps on your hands are red herrings, which is why you live your life trying to fulfill the mark on your passport instead of the lines on your hands, because your life belongs to us, too.  Feel free, however, to use your hands to fulfill your destiny.  They are, in fact, your most significant tool, and it is highly recommended.
What does my name mean?
Gorken?  It means the beautiful Turkish boy.
Really?  I had no idea.
Another lie.  Why are you wasting your divine relentless on that silliness?
Because I am a fabulist.
Yes but a fabulist’s lies on the page are to be balanced by the grinning face necessary to soothe the corresponding sincerity of the fabulist when he speaks always with harshness, or this is the way it’s supposed to be, for the sake of the page and for the sake of reality, which are, agreeably and equally significant, and two sides of a single coin.  You my beautiful boy on the other hand, you are something…else.
What is that?
You discover that by yourself.
I am on a journey.  I am here for the waters of Aphrodite.
The cost of their metamorphosis is 5 euros.
I only have yirmi.
The equivalent of 5 euros in yirmi is 20 yirmi.  How does that price seem to you?
Thank you for doing businesswith us  Gorken, but a warning.
You’ve lied to us so we’ll be keeping our camera obscuras upon your every move, because you’ve distinguished yourself in such a way that even though we like you because of your beauty we are distrustful of you because of your lies.  You will forgive us while we impose this limitation upon you and your visit to The Baths of Aphrodite, but you have to admit we –
No, your decision is the result of deductive reasoning, which ought to be unassailable.  It is the mathematically derived result of a mistake I made, so I participated in its predetermination and it becoming a solid fact.  It makes sense, and sense is all that matters, especially in a poem, more so than the style and rhythms consciously evoked by the poet which are to be understood as embellishments, not the golden city of the grand design.
Let’s leave that tense discussion for another time, Gorken.
I would love it if you could tell me whether or not there will be a silver lining to the mistake I deliberately made.
Thank you for visiting The Baths of Aphrodite. We hope you enjoy your visit.

Gorken?  Finally.  I’d been expecting you.  Frankly, you’re late.
Don’t just stand there gawking at me, say something!
I did not expect a giant.
I’m sorry.
No, I am.  I mean.  I came here expecting you to be a slip of a girl.  The girl next door.  A fairy.
I hope I haven’t disappointed you.  I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, if I had.
No, no.  Yes.  What was I saying?  I feel like the air has been knocked out of me!  You are a giant!
There is a queue.  Could you just cut to the chase?
I’m such an idiot.  I came here to kidnap you.  My motive for coming here today was to steal you.
Hilarious.  You obviously didn’t do your homework.
I heard you were big, but I thought they were being metaphorical.  I heard you were beautiful.  But you are…I don’t even have words with which to measure you.
Measure me?  What is the matter with you?
I paid 20 yimri.
Those are for maintenance.  I apologise about that, but this is an archaeological site, and can only be tended to by experts, and those experts spend many, many hours on The Baths, and their families need to eat food, and they need electricity to be uberhuman (for now).
Of course.  I didn’t mind paying it.
May I ask why you were intending to kidnap me?
I want to confess.
I just asked you to!  Are your blood sugars running low?  Here, have a honeyed fish finger.  The honey’s processed, and the fish isn’t real fish meat, but who cares?  They’re on the house.
I am from Cyprus too.  I was born in the seaside town of Kyrenia, on the 1st July, 1976.
On the shores of Kyrenia you can see the shores of Turkey.  That part of the Mediterranean is like a horizontal and vertical giant mirror.
If you say so.
I soar from shore to shore, from x to X.  All of us born in the north enjoy a good wingspan.
Good for you.
At 13, I found myself at the foot of the Beşparmak Dağları.
The what now?
The mountain with the five fingers.
What does that mean?
Penta = 5. Daktylos = fingers.
It’s the same in Turkish.
Oh no.  You aren’t going to start whining about the flag on the mountain, are you?
Yes, I was going to begin with how it’s a mosaic that makes the shapes of a sickle moon and a star, made of stones.
A stickler for consistency between subject and object might say The perfect material with which to make a flag.
We put it there facing the south of Cyprus on purpose, to show whoever is there facing north that we are up there looking down on them.
Outer space, too.  I have reports of this particular masterpiece being visible via google maps.
Even so, I dislike it.
You shouldn’t say things like that.  Those are blasphemous bone breaking words.  You could get killed.
I am usually articulate, and communicative.  I am not sure what the matter with me is today.  I under slept.
I don’t have time for this.  Could you stop being so effusive and get to the point?
I love my motherland, and the books of Orhan Pamuk.  The work of our country is holy, and every red law of my beloved country I wear on my skin like the thick black hairs that I can’t bring myself to shave.  It’s just, I am an artist.
Not this nonsense again.
If you were to extrapolate the flag of Turkey and look at it as an image and decide whether it works or not based on how compelling it is, as an image, in of itself, it isn’t that impressive.  Even the negative of the image, the flag of the north of Cyprus, doesn’t work, I think.  As an image.
You are offending your religion.  Although I do not adhere to that religion I cannot participate in this behaviour and am going to have to ask you to leave.
No!  I mean, all I wanted to do was re-design the flag!  That’s all!  It’s nothing!
Nothing? How dare you.  Centuries disagree with you.  Can’t you hear them?  Are you deaf, too?
Aphrodite, please!  I came here to kidnap you so that I could eat you to become stronger and make me swift enough to be able to rearrange the flag into a flag that’s more art in the middle of the night in a split second before anyone even notices but I don’t care about any of that now, because now I want to latch on to you, arms and legs stretched out, and expand upon your constellational expansion, and be beamed up like an illuminated undone net into the majesty of the gods!  Please, don’t throw me out!
You brought this on yourself.
I ate a pig, once, Aphrodite!  It twisted in its own shit, but still, I roasted it on a turning spit over a foukou of orange coals, and ate the whole thing!