Saturday, 11 July 2015

Fair Helen wakes from her age-long sleep;
Loose-locked and long limbed,
She walks down to Piraeus harbour.
Gazing across the wide blue ocean,
She turns her face once more to the ships.
Where are her heroes now?
All dead and gone;
Their shades whisper in the islands.
She remembers her young maidens
Running through the sacred groves
The sky so blue; the blood so red.
Then the Germans came to plunder what was left of Troy,
What was buried and forgotten.
They gouged deep trenches
Through the land,
In the name of Archaeology.
They came for bones,
For treasure and for gold:
For fame.
Helen fears the coming of Another;
A terrible northern god,
Three-headed, vengeful, with
Fangs of the Bear,
Talons of the Eagle.
It comes to ravage the innocents,
Demanding a terrible price.
A monstrous debt
Wreaks havoc throughout the land.
The deprivations descend like the Furies.
Helen is scavenging amongst the bins again.
She sleeps in a doorway.
She sells her jewellery
For rice and beans.
She cries out,
“Where are my Heroes? Where are my Warriors?”
Waves lap against the hulls of boats, murmuring
Resilience, Democracy.
She turns and sees the Furies
Pursue an old man
Through Athens’ dusty streets,
Down alleyways stinking of refuse.
Their icy breath falls upon the starving,
By the black market trucks,
The empty shops
And the bread queues.
She runs past the empty temples;
The sacrifice is now exacted
In homes and markets.
The privileged are unchallenged,
Their incantation is broadcast around the world:
“None shall prosper, save they bow down.”
She runs into the city;
There are new voices rising
In Syntagma square.
Bright flags are waving,
The People’s hearts awakening.
On sandaled feet she runs
Faster and faster
To join the hour of triumph.
She cries out, “Is brave Theseus reborn?
He who can slay the Minotaur once more.
He who can rescue us all
From the beast called Austerity?”
The Furies turn
To look upon her
With dreadful eyes and hollow cheeks.
Hissing their spite,
They brandish the Spear of the Troika
To drive it into the heart of Greece.
Helen fears the chaos,
Kinsmen turned foe,
The Oracle’s ravings,
Fissures and schisms,
The warring of nations,
The death throes of states,
Deceit and betrayal.
But the People call out to her
“We are the Heroes. We are the Warriors.
We are One; we are Bold.”
She lifts her hands
To the sky
In an invocation,
Powerful, primordial,
That this time, this time surely,
The centre of Freedom will hold.

© Lisa Rossetti July 2015

The Abduction of Helen of Troy - Antwerp School

No comments:

Post a Comment