Monday, 11 June 2012


Berengaria inhaled the sweet musk
Of her dutiful ephebe mingling with
The glandy riff of frangipani and sighed
Her husband would soon return from
Jerusalem with his legion and shower
Her with jewels and yet more slaves
Perhaps some Nubians ~ her friend
Salome recommended them as
Tireless imaginative lovers and
Had offered her one to try but
Berengaria was happy to watch
Her wanton friend's pleasuring
Noting gleefully the cellulite
Which adorned the jiggling hips
And smiling at the common vulgarities
Uttered as Sal grunted her way to the
Peak of pleasure mountain;
Salome's plebeian origins were
Painfully evident despite her
Desperate attempts to conceal them;
Her villa was filled with expensive tat
And she had recently installed a
Personal soothsayer in a pergola
At the bottom of her garden;
Her parties were notorious for
Their lavishness and poor taste;
Last month Salome had hired an
Elephant to make a grand entrance
But it had thrown her off, trampled
The dinner table and left a huge
Calling card on her lionskin rug
Before falling into her eel pond
She had kept the tusks and
Used them in wantonness;
Berengaria enjoyed the finer
Things in life and encouraged
Travellers from distant lands
Returning to the capital
To tell her their tales;
Several had mentioned
Strange events in Judaea
An insignificant province
Not far from her husband's
Garrison in Jerusalem
Some fellow had been
Stirring up trouble and
Had been put to death
For his efforts ~ but it
Seemed that he had
Re-appeared afterwards
Berengaria knew that if
There was one thing the
Romans were good at
It was executing people;
Salome often went to see
Crucifixions along the
Appian Way, the spectacle
Never failed to arouse her
And she delighted in recounting
The details afterwards;
Berengaria was intrigued
By the stories of this Jew
Who somehow survived
The imperial death sentence
And when her husband Germanicus
Returned she pressed him for details.
At first he denied any knowledge
Of the matter but after her tender
Ministrations in the tepidarium
He admitted that he had been
In charge of the execution;
It was one of several that day
And had passed normally;
The Jew had died quickly,
Of course they had checked
That was their job wasn't it ?
One of his rich pals had taken
The body away after some
Money had changed hands
And that was the end of it
As far as he was concerned;
They left the cross up ready
For the next customer the
Following day, although now
He remembered it was a Friday
And the Jews were fussy about
Saturdays and so maybe it
Would have been Sunday
When the next batch were due;
Oh yes there was one other thing
They had pulled out the heavy iron
Nails to release the body
Usually they were re-used but
One of them was so bent it
Was of no further use but
Germanicus' centurion at
The site kept it as a souvenir
If she liked he would bring
It to her ~ Longinus would
Be happy to donate it to
The boss' wife
And so a few days later
Berengaria held the
Twisted piece of iron
In her hands feeling
The jagged edges which
Had torn living flesh and
Shattered delicate bones
And knew that the stories
Were true ...

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