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Days of the Accord

Because it was wet and neither of us felt like working,

we traced concessions on the greasy table and negotiated borders.

I was ready to relinquish epochs.  You, to my fury,

quibbled over neighbourhoods.  I’m sorry:


streets you bargained over were, for me, terraces

scored with washing, child-flitting alleys

that led to the old port and the sea, an imperial coin

embossed by clouds, vaults and cardos


towers rising above orchards and ravines

into sunshine, prayer

dispensed from their crenellations. 

So we fall back onto studied courtesies.


Hectored and lectured between

fallen columns, how could you understand

the double failure of our auguries —

how they were used, and what we thought they portended?


Now that I have conjured you beside me in the lamplight

take off that toga, those spats, these antique graces:

all our mosaics proclaim we advance

by accommodation, for all that ancient bluster.

Lacuna October 2011

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