[This is from Steve Kilbey's 1987 book Earthed.]

Carthage

Oh, Kartago, how I remember the avenues which rolled on down
to the harbour where all the traders of the known world
would bring their purple dyes and their cargoes of slaves. When the
moon was full I slipped on my amulet and walked these streets
unseen, until I came to her house and tethered zebras licked the
salt from my invisible hands. My Phoenician love, cruel and dark,
her jet hair hanging in oiled rings. She must have drunk a philtre of
everlasting youth; she never aged from decade to decade as I
shadowed her from room to room, although her eyes were
ancient and serene. Behind us, Africa slept through undiscovered
nights, while in the jungles temples rose and fell. Oh my wreckless
people, we could have changed the course of history, you and I.
The day the Romans bashed down our gates she took excruciating
poison and lay unaware as marines and soldiers rifled through her
apartments and stole her ivory and myrrh. They laid waste our
accursed city and made barren the very site upon which she
stood ... even Scipio, himself, wept to see how thorough was the
destruction. Her ashes blew away across Tunisia and the
conquerors loaded up their plunder and sailed home, leaving only
the faint smell of smoke and the vanishing imprint of sandals in
the sand.

© 1987 Rykodisc ®Steve Kilbey

 


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