Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 13 . . .

Crouching Female Figure: Pompeii

     by Gail White

At first they were not much afraid,

but hour by hour the ashes fell,

layer on layer overlaid –

the soft gray snow that falls in hell.

When panic came, her mistress said,

Lucilla, take the child and run.

But when she stumbled, both were dead.

Ashes had eaten up the sun.

Now, in an iron carapace

of ashes, here she crouches still,

shielding in vain her charge’s face

while tourists photograph their fill.

Could God explain in layman’s terms

what vices necrotized Pompeii,

when urban gods and rustic herms

were ashes in a single day?

No law, no logic eases pain

or stops the tidal wave of death.

Sinai and Etna both can rain

ashes that suffocate our breath.

Gail White writes from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Her third poetry collection, The Accidental Cynic, will be published this coming winter.

© 2009 Gail White