When the hero as suitor stops
to bathe himself in the river,
we don’t know for sure
if it is to meet a ritual
requirement, or simply from
the desire to present
himself in the best possible way
to the girl and her parents.
However it is, the epic narrates
that as he rises from the waters,
all the fish float belly-up to the surface,
not one having survived the stink.
Which is to say, beware when love
goes disguised as valor and vice-
versa; beware the performance
preceding some virtue. It always takes
time for the consequences to clear,
for the water to return to normal.