You were with us then

You were with us then
in Turkey, as we stood
in the amphitheatre,
came through the Arch
of the Gladiators
and heard the cheering
of the crowds.

You were with us then
in Turkey, as we climbed
to our places high
above the arena
and witnessed the chariots
in our mind and choked
in the dust of flying hooves.

You were with us then
in Turkey, on the highest hill
and marvelled
at the skills of Hittites
and Romans
and bathed in their
sophistication.

Yes, you were with us then
in Turkey.

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.