Thursday, 18 June 2015

from Blackwater Quartet, selection 33

The Inheritors

In this outpost town where Claudius was god

and empires rose and fell,

a dignity survives in the heritage of masons.

Somehow, the wall still stands.

Earth-tone bricks

shaled by centuries of frost—

the angles rake without regard to gravity.

The centurion, Longinus, recovers his composure,

his gravestone broken in Boadicea’s wake.

The statue’s parts present a picture

empire builders covet:

the law on horseback, a stricture

reminiscent of his childhood in Sofia ‘…tall for his age,

speaks directly, considers life a token.’

The least among us builds against the seasons,

plumb lines reckoning adversity, between the rider

and our world these random blooms of stone,

the sworn blood, the pact

we make in steely commerce.

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