"Petra, Ruins of Triumphal Arch," David Roberts, WikiArt photo.
“Petra, Ruins of Triumphal Arch,” David Roberts, WikiArt photo.

Part 4: City of Kharsos

Beyond spruce-lined horizon, ancient ruins
Jutted from mountain brow, gates and arches
Collapsed, lost City of Kharsos discovered.
Whether climb-weary or in awe, Dolius fell
To unsteady knee, prayers offered in gasping
Breaths, temple citadels part-standing, open
Well as papyri prophesied, they arrived before
Noon-day sun, simple windless made, Selva
Bound in straps of leather harness.

Dangling from hemp rope, Selva descended
Into dark well, twist-turning, disappearing
From sight, brick wall crumbled within, her
Voice echoed upward, first of broken urns
secured in nets, hoisted to surface. Dolius
Translated secrets held since antiquity:

Temple of the Sybil and Campagna, Richard Wilson, 1765, WikiArt photo.
Temple of the Sybil and Campagna, Richard Wilson, 1765, WikiArt photo.

“Taking these time-worn steps, my vision lofted
To higher planes, soul rising above mundane,
Amongst verdant hills present faded, eternal
Ocean-flow of ages, beyond my mortal grasp.
Yet, I climbed thousand sunrises, passing dusk
To dawn, pallid moon, affirmation of celestial
Light, Mount Kharsos, such revelations made.”

“Absent are simple pleasures: music by which to
Read, holding my children during peaceful nights.
Chorus of mountaintop pines o’erlooking blood-
Stained brine turned tormenting to my ears,
Night glow of burning ships, smoke plumes by
Day, tainted reefs beneath noontide sun, bodies
And flotsam washing upon our weary shores.”

“O! Restless spring, when warm and cool vapors
Collide, pilgrims climbed amongst dewy mists,
Edging towering rock-face, with narrowed steps
Soulful prayers of salvation offered, redemption
Of inner thoughts, caring for each other as they
Wept, whilst gods peered deep into troubled
Hearts, dark agonies of lifetimes past.”

"Head of an Old Man," Guercino, WikiArt photo.
“Head of an Old Man,” Guercino, WikiArt photo.

City of cities, wisdom of sacred Kharsos unearthed,
Scriptural verses, fragments alight with heavenly
Fire, Dolius’ life-dream realized, fifty urns and
dozens of clay tablets, preserving ageless wisdom,
Poetic song, visions of divine. Whether from climb
Or exhaustion of laboured years, Dolius staggered
To well edge, aged hand clutching chest, Selva to
Surface hoisted, in final moments, Dolius breathed
His last, head resting on her lap.

Mount Kharsos and sacred City of Kharsos are fictitious.
The “chorus of mountain pines” in fourth stanza represents
the (Greek) Chorus, 
as found in third stanza of preceding
poems. By Dolius’ death, Selva becomes “Vessel of Language.”

Written during early morning thunderstorm whilst listening
to “Piano 
Lessons with Grandma,” from movie soundtrack
Loud and Incredibly Close,” by Alexandre Desplat.

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