Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Delos: in the Temple

Stepping lightly on white feet
Seven voluptuaries entered the aulum
Holding golden dishes of kolliva for the dead
And placed them before the marble statue of Aphrodite;
I watched as they danced in a circle
Whirling ecstatically in the smoky lamplight
Before disappearing silently into the depths of the temple
The guardian limped towards the statue
Leaning heavily on his cane of narwhal ivory
Kneeling he scooped up a handful of the kolliva offering
And tasted it then spat the seeds of wheat
And pomegranate over the head of the statue;
I stepped out of the shadows
But he did not seem to see me
Muttering ancient prayers to himself in a trance
He suddenly straightened and in a loud voice

O ye men of Delos
Leave your vineyards
And gardens
Bind your thews
And sharpen your spears
For the ships of Sparta
Are upon us

Two of the voluptuaries
Led him away into the sanctuary
And I gave the alarm
From the belvedere
On the sacred conch

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