John L. Severance Fund 1971.136
She stares at me across two thousand years
Asking perhaps if I remember her
If all the rites: the funerary tears,
The preservation, pickling in myrrh,
The artful wrapping up of what remained,
The portrait placed with care upon the sheet,
Had stopped forgetfulness. Her eyes are strained,
As if each visitor she heard repeat
The same refrain--young woman, Antonine,
Unknown--had drained a little more
Of that which made an artist now unseen
Paint her so true. Two thousand years she wore
And yet if I could speak her name, I swear
She'd raise her eyes and life would still be there.
This first appeared at 140 Syllables.
Philip Styrt is an assistant professor of English at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA. His creative and critical work focuses on traditional forms of poetry and drama. His poetry has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist), Sliced Bread and The Oriel College Record.
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