Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

'Aphrodite of Milos' by Lisa Gorton

States of Poetry Victoria - Series Two

'Aphrodite of Milos' by Lisa Gorton

States of Poetry Victoria - Series Two

Stone eidolon at the end of a walled-in colonnade –
               She was born from the sea, light
               off the foam of the sea –

               [Alex]andros son of [M]enides
               citizen of [Ant]ioch at Meander
               made [this] –
Her body rises over the crowd – She looks aside
as though at something about to happen –
               Stone in the flesh, her blank eyes
               invent distances – Stone comb marks in her hair –
               Her hair, unloosed,
               enters into the heraldry of women’s gestures –
Under her right breast a hole
where the metal strut held up her arm –
               In her left hand she held an apple –

Light sinks an inch deep into Parian marble –
The sculptor of marble is a sculptor of shadows –
               Nude upper body and base of drapery –
two blocks of Parian marble joined under its first fold –
               Drapery falls from her thighs
               like folds in water –
               like dense-packed snow
the quarry on Paros where slaves cut blocks out of the mountain,
dragged them on a road lined with marble down to the ships –

A farmer found the torso buried in a wall –
               A wall of cut stone
               floored with rubble,
the torso lying on its side half-sunk in dirt –
               The robes she dressed in to seduce Anchises
               outshone fire – shining necklaces on her soft throat,
               golden earrings in the shape of flowers –
Her arms are buried under the landslide –
               Where her arms are broken the surface is like torn paper –
A path steep downhill clutching at branches, grey-green olive trees,
grey leaves whitening from the whipped-back branch –
A soldier paid the man to keep on digging –
               They stood her in a field –
Stone heaps and broken columns, salt-pale grass –

They broke her arms off when they dragged her out –
               In her left hand she held a mirror –
They smashed her earlobes to get the earrings off –
The ambassador arrived to find men loading her onto a ship –
               The marble is scratched
               where they dragged her over the rocks –
They have searched the sea there for her broken arms –
The dragoman had the men whipped
who sold her to the ambassador – After the war broke out
the dragoman’s body hanging three days in the street –
The ambassador gave the statue to his king –

Her arms lie in a heap of broken marble in a warehouse,
hands holding out the things that tell her name –
               The mirror she holds is a polished shield –
               On the side she turns towards us, painted gold,
               a warrior runs from the burning city,
               his father clinging to his back, son crying behind –
               the sky, though made of gold, looks dark with smoke –
               The statue looks into its other side
in which there is not one thing more real than another –
rank after rank of light between the mirror and its eyes –

Lisa Gorton

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.