Ode to the young man with broad shoulders

by Kerry Hammerton

What man or god are you? Roman
gladiator? The crowds roaring as
you lift your sword to strike your
opponent. Greek god? eating grapes
and sipping mead, fawned over
by adoring goddesses and demi-
goddesses as you converse
with the stars and moon.

To which god must I pray?
When I go walking in the forest
I will pick mint to sweeten
your breath, hawthorn
to nourish your heart. I will rob
bees of their honey. I will pick lilies
and violets, foamflowers, loosestrife,
toothwort to weave garlands for your hair.

How can I sacrifice myself? On
whose altar? I will be your
priestess,wear white, build
a temple on a remote
mountaintop; gold and marble
and a large canopied bed, and
when you come to lay your head,
I will worship those shoulders, lay
my head in the hollow of your neck.


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