by Mark Head


On the beach at Herculaneum

Wild children play with diadems and bracelets wrapped in two thousand year old clay
Playing games with ashen faces full of laughter and deadly pursuit to hiding places of no concealment and digging holes in the sand to find more diadems and bones hitting each other with femur and thigh bone the football children play tag with a skull found rolling side to side by the motion of the sea
History was in the making the day that skull was laid bone bare.

At the beach of Herculaneum

The children ran that day
Ran in terror choking and screaming to the cool of the sea and the heat of its steam, stumbling through remnants of rubbled houses fallen bodies and beams and blinded by dust laden fume, children and adults like children ran through torn pavement streets fear crazed eyes no greeter of friend nor foe in this seat of government laid bone bare by the turmoil of soil roiling wind and sulphurous fume.

Near the beach of Herculaneum

Child and nurse fled from hearth fire to become fired pillars of stone ashed in embracement near running rivers of stone, coursing down fleeing streets greeting each brother stone in fiery embrace hissing sparks and like lovers melting one to the other flowed down to kiss the sea shrinking back, this terrible mating privacy ensured by mantles of steam.

On the beach of Herculaneum

Cold stone to hot fire and flowing smoking at contact with slow-footed children writhing in screams from earth mother’s embrace cooling from ebb’d fire move no more.

Life to stone to earth to air and fire immortalize this monument to earth’s fury by fire

A child sleeps in stone on the beach at Herculaneum.

Vesuvius, maker of stone children
Sleeps like a child
Near the beach of Herculaneum.


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