Today's poem is by U.A. Fanthorpe


Two of them, always.
That is part of the story.

Speech, and Silence. The wit,
Who chats up soldiers, speaks the epitaph,
Who knows the score,

And Iras, golden-mouthed,
Says less than Cordelia, even.

There is a soothsayer, to amuse
The women. But she is the one who knows,

Her words being dragged from the future
Into now. One dies before, one after.

The fig-seller's snake articulates them both,
But Iras goes first, dying of a queen's kiss;

Charmian later, contradicting a Roman.

The usual things are happening to the world:
Battles on land, battles at sea, pacts, violations of pacts,

Empire-building, empire-losing, men jobbing, men getting
On with the job, eagles, pyramids, yarns about wives and crocodiles,

In the dangerous centre of the court,
Eunuchs, messengers, decisions, jokes,

And the two, always,
One before, one after,
Who do nothing but die,
Being part of the story.

Copyright © 2014 U.A. Fanthorpe All rights reserved
from Selected Poems
Enitharmon Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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