A Fayum Portrait

For Euphrosyne Doxiadis

I saw you last night in Aromas,
the taverna between garages at the end of town,

decked out in your best dress, long glittering earrings,
a wreath of gold across your brow.

I couldn’t stop gazing at your aquiline beauty,
and listened closely, wanting to catch your name.

Nor could I sleep for thinking about you.
Then today looking at a book on the Fayum Portraits

I saw you again wearing the vermilion dress, green scarf,
the same garland of gold.

Across your portrait were the words:
Eirene … may her soul rise before Osiris … For ever

written by a high priest working at the edge of the desert
in the time of Caligula,

at what must have seemed the end of things.
But all I could see was the fierce melancholy of your eyes –

and in my mind the image of wheat,
ripe white seed heads, the black loam beneath.

Easter Longing

Paros 2010

Good Friday.
The Church of a Hundred Doors.

And from the town
each man and woman comes to kiss
the bleeding wound of Christ,

and over their heads a canopy of candles and flowers:
Resurrection of the body
and life everlasting.
After Golgotha,

And now the rose petals swirling over our heads
and the hypnotic cadence

of midnight bells melting into a universe
too large to be ritualised
or known.

Faithless among the faithful, I stand wide-eyed.
Is it that I need a kind of eschatology,
to laud the cliff-edge flowers of wilderness:

marguerites, crimson poppies,
wild grass swelling with violet seed?

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