Gazing into depths of opalescent antiquity,
I wonder, Flora, how you bravely endured
Greek tumult, Lacedæmonian fighting ships
Descending on Athenian shores? From what
Ancient gods or holy scrolls did you derive
maternal strength to persevere years of
Advancing Spartan siege?
Flora responded: For decades we lived in peace,
And luxury, family wealth, merchants trading
Amongst Ægean Isles, benefiting from Athenian
Prosperity without suspicion of Spartan greed,
Warring plots against who and what we were,
Heritors of hostile sword and spear, a thousand
Arrows screaming upon our city gates.
We found solace in loving arms of returning
Hoplite solders and in our dead heroes, spilt
blood staining flowing gowns, sandaled feet.
Yes, we prayed to Zeus and to Athena, made
Votive offerings of flowers, herbs, and fruit,
Blood of goats and pigs, entrails discerned by
Priests, pleas for guidance and victorious might.
Within months we were thrust into abject
Poverty and disease, a double-edged sword,
Ruthlessly taking lives of young and old alike,
Those who lacked strength to resist death’s
Wresting grasp in feverish nights. On funeral
Pyres, we burned fallen dead, their bloody
Linens, smoke billowing for gods to heed.
For those who lost all – husband, wife, and
Children – poison or dagger’s plunging blade,
United families twist war-torn isles and River
Styx, anxious shades united in loyalty and in
Love, honour to die by one’s own hand than
By an avenging enemy, such bitter plights, to
Defend our homes until none were left alive.
When admiring my shell-etched visage, know
That my Greek heritage guided the artisan’s
Skilled hand, to fashion my likeness in forgive-
Ness and eternal peace, in homage to the gods
For I was once a proud Athenian woman, head
Held high, who loved my aristocratic family
And sailed splendorous Ægean seas.