“The Mirror,” Frank Dicksee, 1896, WikiArt photo.

Part 3: Menrva’s Bronze Mirror

“What decade is this and where?” Cosimia
Asked me, Iliona, goddess Menrva marooning
Us on ancient Etruscan shores. Aside from
Gifts of bronze mirror, pitcher-like urn, we
Bore no possessions, except Greek acumen,
Knowledge of language, orbing planets,
Seasonal visiting stars. Stone cairn we built,
Overlooking unknown sea, linen strips we
Tore from Cosimia’s gown, message written
By stick and blood: “Cosimia and Iliona, from
Greek Cumae, walking north. Find us please.”
Together we strove grassy cliffs, warming
Sun overhead, hand-In-hand, daughter,
Mother, reflections of our souls.

Entire day we walked, bronze mirror more
Curious than dark pitcher-urn, peering deep
Within, etched on opposite of polished face,
images of goddess, two attendants. Lo! Ship
On horizon’s edge, from hillside mirror sun-
Light flashed, crew oars waves, course towards
Us changed, bow of upward-turning lashed
Logs, single sail of split reeds. “Mother, it’s
An ancient boat,” Cosimia observed, like none
Seen or known, when Cycladic peoples explored,
Inhabited scattered circle of Greek isles. Alas!
Harsh realizations, time-marooned angst
Equaled heart-trembling plights of war.

Whether real or Menrva’s magic spell, upon
Beach they landed, men, women, children,
Fisher-farmers, seeking promise of new life
On these desperate shores, except they
Walked past, if not through us, invisible we
Were to them, images mirroring ancient
Eras, they, too, sought refuge from decades
Of death and war. “Menrva!” At her Mirror I,
Iliona shouted. “What curse have you placed
Upon us?” “Through this mirror, only the
Goddess’ priestess may you speak,” advised
Head-draped Thania, her face metallic
Reflection of mine. “Five questions you
May ask, words marked and measured,
Each entreaty to Etruscan goddess.

“Italian Girl Drawing Water,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1871, WikiArt.

By my single nod, Thania understood, no
Words spoken, no inadvertent questions
Asked. “Study the reverse of this mirror,”
Priestess stated. “Many answers in etched
Images exist therein. Use your pitcher-urn
With caution, water collected there in, may
Me used for thirst drinking, laves before
Evening prayers, but no drinking remaining
Water after prayers or baths.” Hundred
Questions burning, but I replied, “Cosimia
And I understand.” Words whispered by
Thania as if beyond Menrva’s ear, “Spend
Nights near clear springs.” From bronze
Mirror, Thania’s reflection disappeared.

In this poem, Cosimia and her mother, Iliona, realize that Menrva
has time-displaced them from Etruria  to ancient Cycladic islands.
For more on Etruscan bronze mirrors and Cycladic c
ulture
(with works of art) see these informative links:

https://www.ancient.eu/article/1009/etruscan-bronze-mirrors/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkqEHMjZw44
https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ecyc/hd_ecyc.htm
Thanks for reading. 

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