Stumbling and sliding,
huffing, puffing across
marble slabs that look like a
child’s game of blocks gone bad,
steadying myself with
my walking stick, I am breathless.
Watch your step! Careful, now!
The guide wears his responsibility
like a heavy woolen coat.
Marble, napping for centuries,
rises up in restless dreams to catch my toe
and my attention. But I must look up to see!
Cleopatra walked here. She didn’t trip.
Her chariots clacking along these grooves
no doubt were pulled by sure-footed stallions.
Nike was a deity then, not the brand
of ugly shoes I chose to help me
navigate this Roman site in Turkey.
Gazing and praising, many
hundreds of tourists stare at
chunks of toppled columns and masterful mosaics—
ancient marvels I’ve not imagined until now.
We gawk collectively, impressed and thrilled,
with knees crackling and perspiration dripping from
the unseasonable heat of May, 2010,
as if Helios in a jealous rage
is vying with Hades for the hottest flame.
Oh Ephesus! The gravity of centuries
tugs at me through slabs of stone,
and all the effort it took to get here—
months of planning and frugality,
the crushing discomfort of the plane
the jostle of the bus, the sweltering
closeness of the crowd—is now but
the tiniest blip of inconvenience.
My spirit, too, is breathless.
© 2010 by Sara J. Glerum
All rights reserved. Electronic version published 2010