Confronted by dark days, sleepless nights,
I have fallen from favour of the gods, my
Adult children, which is most concerning,
I dare not say. I am Airlea, widow of Leontis,
Stone artisan, found dead at our table, meal
Of lamb and fruit, sleeping we first thought,
His noble heart given to his trade, steady
Hands, hammer chisel tapping, carving sun-
Awakened pentelic marble, column capitals,
Decorating entablatures, friezes of bas-relief.
Fractured quarry stone, family fragmented,
Patriarch-provider reduced to smoldering
Bones of funeral pyre, enduring as I could,
Until beset in poverty, I sold Leontis’ silent
Tools, spent all but few of his prized coins,
Work-awarded, temples shining and bright-
Painted, adored in Apollo’s radiant sun.
Chastising children, they knew not how I
Suffered, heart and bed abandoned, no
Night warmth by flickering firelight.
Alas! I turned away from children, blesséd
Gods, approached by men at agora, coins
Given as dinner companion, intimate baths,
Intoxicated by wine, escape from loneliness,
Favours of flesh provided gifts of clothing,
Lamp oil, bowls of fruit and figs. “Prostitute!”
My children chided me, betraying memory
Their father, ridiculing voices driving me to
Drunkenness and to the street. By trance of
Poppy, I had lost myself.
Last four coins of Leontis, salvation or ruin,
I brought to temple of Apollo, all round me
Hand-carved statuary spoke my husband’s
Name. On stone porticoes I prayed, “For
These coins, my lord, I wish Leontis’ love
Again.” Metamorphosis of face and frame,
Block of marble I became, hammer tapping
Chisel, quaking realization, husband’s true
Love, female statuary, honey glow of pentelic
Marble, adored by his eyes and hands.
For more on the Parthenon and pentelic marble see this link: