Jul/Aug 2006 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Ray Templeton

Art by Victor Ehikhamenor

Re: birth

She knew all about new lives, the way
your body would hoax you—knew,
though you could hold them in your hands,
it was never for quite long enough.
So, move on: she'd done it once—
weathered widowhood, found a way
to walk more lightly on the earth.
Now she'd quell that other thirst
in different ways, learn how to piece
a mosaic of fragile grace together
out of new connections, diverse gifts.
Not that there were easy answers:
suspending judgment caused her pain,
confusion. If isolation was to be ordained,
she'd find a way to love them
from the same courteous distance.


Verulamium, AD 275

A house with painted rooms, a hypocaust,
heated baths, jars of Mediterranean oils
and lustrous red wines; slaves schooled
in courteous Latin, a mosaic of household gods—
five thousand colored tesserae to hoax the eye—
but nobody's deceived. Step through the door:

marsh-sodden hills, not one native spice,
no olive trees. In this pale sun, crouched bushes
slope off into hanging mists, and damp leaches
under skin, with the slash of dead gray eyes
outside the walls. All that rain, and yet it leaves
imagination dry, thirst unsatisfied.


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