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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Roman Remains

by Angela Prew

Why did the Romans build so high?
Was it in defence? The search for water
gushing from those mountain springs?
Or just because they liked to look
down those Roman noses
at the peasants labouring in dry fields below?
Why did they build their steps so steeply?
Little fellows, so we’re told, unlike us today.
Fifteen old friends trail stiff joints
tap our sticks up, up,
still further up, breath rasping from tired lungs
until we stand , land patchworked far below,
among tall pillars, ancient stones,
theatres and nymphaea, roads
still marked by chariot wheels,
and we have our reward.