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Christopher Middleton

 


A Pinwheel

In his luggage X had stowed a green
Bronze arrowhead. The thing
Came from Armenia. Persian, he said.
Successive satraps in its time
Had all the best Armenian horses herded
South to the Persian king,
Rugs, tubs of turpentine, oil in jars,
Boys tactfully picked—

                              On the mantelpiece
Y had a stemmed
Wooden cup from Crete. A convict
Made it. You might think
Fingernails not a knife had oddly
Whittled its
Maze of facets, groping for the tilt
It had to stand at. Piss gold the colour
That man’s privation wept
And sorrow sweated into it—

                             Since 1940, Z
Has kept a coin, Macedonian. Curly head
Of Zeus on one side. Philip II
Leans forward, if you turn it, on a high
Stepping horse. Silver tunic still
Flutters around his body.
Silver hat brim twisting in the wind—
Years to go before the drink got him
Or bugles blew, at crack of dawn, and Alexander
Floated off, unblinking, in a cloud of archers.

—from The Word Pavilion and Selected Poems,
The Sheep Meadow Press, Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY, 2001