Marcus, from his cradle, haul,
wrap arms around and run
on stone that shakes in enmity.
All I knew as solid, no more sure
than jelly made from quince,
as heaving ground moves sideways
fitful from my sandaled feet.
Waves leap and slosh in mosaic pool
as if in rhythm with the sea
beyond the distant harbour wall.
Through yawning seats, then outwards,
to the ampitheatre’s open space,
where I, with others, stop – to gape –
at temples I have helped to raise,
soothe my crying son, as columns
crack in clouds of dust and fall,
witness solid Telmessos fall.
And in my ears, the roar of gods,
an anger, terrible to hear.
How little we men are.
After Suleyman the Magnificent: letter to his wife
My solitude, my one in a palace of many, I rest from life’s demands in your arms
your face, a calm moon soothing stars as it shepherds night skies, you restore me.
My existence, elixir of wisdom, wines deep diffusing, divine drifting heavenwards
awakening faint stirrings, a new born Spring, rose’s lingering scent, you delight me.
My joy, sweeping my cares away, out with the lamplight, candle igniting the dark
bitter tang of an orange, pomegranate sip, torch to illuminate, you relight me.
My life, green rising plant, far beyond wealth, unspoilt and untouched, I reach for you
you’re my saint, my Joseph, sold as a slave to the Khan of old Egypt, you resolve me.
My friend, my everything, you are Stambul, Karaman, red dust of Anatolia
Baghdad and Horasan, gold flecked map of my world unfolded, you reframe me.
My sunshine, hair copper flames, arch of your eyebrow, when your eye’s full of sorrow
my life’s in your hands, my blood on yours if I die a martyr, non-Muslim, you renew me.
My beloved, at your door I will wait, impart on my ships to four corners your praises
my heart aches, it aches, eyes fill with tears, I am Muhibbi, I am happy, you define me.
Janet Hatherley is a teacher from London, England who has recently come back to poetry. She has attended Clare Pollard’s ‘Ways into Poetry’ class, is now attending Roddy Lumsden’s poetry group and has published in The Lake.