"Ruins of Taormina," Thomas Cole, 1842, WikiArt photo.
“Ruins of Taormina,” Thomas Cole, 1842, WikiArt photo.

Part 2: Unraveling Gods

Fragment of antiquity, I knew not this temple
Nor gods residing therein, flat rocky summit
Eclipsed by scudding clouds, outer porticoes
Collapsed, columns shattered. Encircled by
Broken walls, images of ancient heroes, edifice
Was situated within lush grass, time-renewed
Oasis commanding scrambling slopes.

Humbling presence, chorus of voices spoke in
Doric Greek, music to my weary mind. “Heliké,
What brings you to our holy temple?” “My Lords,
My sister, Korina, died of plague fevers, her body
Burned on funeral pyres. Who are you my Lords?”
“We are the Unraveling, beyond bounds of time
And Greece, within our walls, the dead return.”

By sharp knife, I sliced my palms, blood dripping
On altar stones, animal sacrificed, priests read
Entrails spilled into krater bowls, burnt offerings,
Smoke in dark tendrils spiraling in mountain air.
Clouded skies quaked, in warm sunbeams Korina
Appeared as I knew her, before illness, bright-
Eyed, my sister lost, in all ways beautiful.

“You may visit your sister as you wish from
Outside our walls, and she must forever remain
Within, bring whom you wish, parents, friends,
But know this, Wall of Souls must not be crossed,”
Plurality of voices stated. In obedience, I knelt,
Forehead touching temple steps. Outside waist-
High walls I returned, Korina greeting me.

"Helen on Walls of Troy," Gustave Moreau, circa 1885, WikiArt photo.
“Helen on Walls of Troy,” Gustave Moreau, circa 1885, WikiArt photo.

For weeks we visited and embraced, no limit to
Our time or love. Yet, she bore no memory of
Death or awakening, in many ways an apparition
Of Korina, and equally it was not, more than
Illusion, flesh and blood rekindled with ancient
Divine, beyond my reach and understanding,
Equally painful to visit as to leave.

“Unraveling Gods” originates from Horace’s “Ars Poetica”
(lines 191-192) where he instructs writers not to resort to
deus ex machina 
“unless difficulty worthy of god’s unraveling
should happen.” 
In this poem, gods are the “machine” or
mechanism by which Korina is returned to her sister. 
 

Next is “Part 3: Ages of Iron and Bronze.”

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