Michael Vince Poems

Twelve Poems of Michael Vince

photo of Michael Vince in Rome


                                    Piraeus, Greece

   The olive seems to root in the stone,

  The hard wood twisting down; it is her tree:

  Her bronze face shifts its colour as leaves turn.

    See how her robes in time have grown

  So frail, they might seem dry enough to burn,

  Such fragile metal, flaked and stained where she

     Lay centuries beneath the ground.

  But now those swelling folds have met the light

  Still blurred with mud which masks her attributes,

     And building-workers gather round

  To gaze at her, and smoke, and scrape their boots.

  The one whose spade first touched her knows it might

      Mean money, maybe a new dress

  To soothe his wife. And so he makes his cross

  To the All-Holy Virgin, and in case

      This dim archaic holiness

  With its blotched staring corpse’s face

  Still holds a power of gain or loss

      He gives her equal reverence.

  Later he comes home drunk and beyond care

  Shouting a girl’s name, with a bleeding hand,

      Then weeping and not making sense.

  Unstirred, remote, his wife and mother stand

  With neither blame nor pity in their stare.