Three Boys Throwing Pebbles
--Karoly Ferenczy, 1890, near Budapest
Each boy has gathered flat stones
on the sandy bank of the river
to skip clear to the other side,
where we see a clutch of white houses
and a scattering of poplars.
The smallest boy crouches, his back to us.
He reaches down to choose a stone.
The others stand in profile. The oldest,
stone in his right hand, weight
on his right bent leg, may throw soon.
The middle boy, shirtless and barefoot,
stares sternly up the river. We notice
their short-cropped hair glows. Neither
boy smiles. The artist, a man of 28,
knew those were sober faces of loss.
The artist saw the houses were industry,
the poplars were smoke stacks, the boys
gone off to war, the two not returned.
He picks up the stone and skips it.
It sinks in the middle of the Danube.
The Sacrophagus of Dihoriaut
--end of the 22nd Dynasty (ca. 750 B.C.)
The wings across your chest
announce your intentions.
This world, just a passage
full of weapons, sharp, ready
as you are to slide into
the next world. The horse profiled
over your heart wisely looks
away. Beneath him the fish
stays in his world. The sparrow
in the reflective air, shiny
with crystals of earth, gold,
golden sand, blessings of scarab
and morsels of grain, rises
before the horned cattle, the glide
of the southbound snail. These
two bodies at your knees,
bodies with heads of eagles,
attend, abide, await
while striped over the base
of the coffin, the bones
of your feet, your long, painted
toes are losing touch
with the earth you ruled.
Marcia L. Hurlow has had poems recently or forthcoming in River Styx, Mudfish, Nimrod, The Great American Poetry Show, and Ellipsis. Her first full-length collection of poems, Anomie, won the Edges Prize, and her most recent chapbook, Green Man in Suburbia, won the Backwards City Review prize.
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