Moriturus (Ascanius and the Stag)
Cervulus ille redit, iamiam moriturus in urbe
Quae non condita erat …
Caught by perspective’s spell, the eye
Lifts to that blurry reach of blue
Above the bridge – a peak or two,
Then cloudy trees meet branching sky:
A prospect delicate as foam!
Till, drifting left, you find, below,
The lengthened form and levelled bow
Of Prince Ascanius, heir of Rome.
To see his target, you must turn:
Across the bushy stream, due right,
A stag, neck skewed, confronts his sight
Direct: poor beast, about to learn
History’s impetus, the blow
Long told. Look left: the arrow’s set
Straight at his lengthened throat, and yet –
Look right – he stands there still, as though
Saved by the context; through this frame
Nothing can pass. Look right, look left;
Pause at the entry point, that cleft
Of edgeless blue. The sky’s the same,
The bridge, the temple – not yet built,
And yet already ruined, bare
Against the still bucolic air.
Heaped between loss and loss, the silt
Of memory thickens, aided by
The clench of art. What should we mourn?
The stag waits, spindly as a fawn.
Look back, look up: the stones rise high.
The sky holds blue. The branching sky.
Julia Griffin lives in South-East Georgia. She has published in Light, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, and some other magazines.
The Ekphrastic Review
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