When the villa was being built,
before the mountain erupted in violent rage
at the sins of the city,
before the seas boiled
and the skies darkened with ash,
before we became plaster casts in museums,
before all that
my master had a mosaic laid in the doorway
to repel robbers and revellers.
Morals had declined in the city, so far from Rome,
and there was drunkenness in the streets
and lewd behaviour. Most other villas
included a warning within the tesserae,
but my master said I looked ferocious enough
and laughed as he ruffled my coat.
It was true. I was a good guard dog.
No one got past me.
I live in the ether now,
my life reduced to sub-atomic particles.
But I survive in essence, still on guard.
Sometimes I see someone on our streets
(now blasted clean and gentrified)
a bully, say, or a thief among the tourists,
and I send them a message:
Beware of the dog.
Catherine McCallum is a writer from Tasmania. After a career in Australia and Europe as an art director, she now lives in a fishing village with her husband and two dogs, completing a YA Sci-fi novel and writing poetry inspired by favourite works of art and life on an island.
The Ekphrastic Review
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