Days of 2016

He’d been a sculptor          on a small scale
In a town south of Damascus.         He’d worked in stone.
His masterpiece, he said         was a mother and child
no bigger than this        and showed his fingernail.

The tools he needed         were like the tools used
by opticians, tiny screwdrivers        little files;
rubble, stone he could find        even here in Athens,
in this shabby neighborhood.       Sometimes he mused

in front of the figures,         marble and white-eyed,
on days when the museum was free        statues larger than men
but broken-limbed youths        magnified with Time
older by aeons        than many who have died.

His children, his wife were safe:        praise be to God!
But so much had been destroyed         his life’s work lost.
The Lion consumed all!         Lion, he said.
That’s what it means, in Arabic:    Assad.


A.E. Stallings is an American poet who has lived in Athens since 1999. Her most recent poetry collection is Olives; a new volume is due out in the autumn of 2018. Her new verse translation of Hesiod’s Works and Days will be published with Penguin Classics in February. She lives with her husband, the journalist John Psaropoulos, and their children, Jason and Atalanta.

Editor’s Note: The caption of the image in the post thumbnail reads, “An Afghan girl recalls drownings.” Source