Charlotte Mandel

Ancient Love

            Greek archaeologists find couple locked in millennia-old hug



Why disturb bones that lay in close embrace

six thousand years? Age twenty when they died,

strong limbs entwined, glow of youth in each face.


Might this have been a double suicide?

Intense passion blocked by society,

hemlock's bitter wine to make her his bride.


Or did some cataclysmic irony

befall them as they kisseda volcanos

hiss and roar, as in Pompeii, a fiery


mass, or an earthquake avalanche of loam?

Were they aware of oncoming burial

or orgasmic peace in sudden catacomb?


Did they live their lives in material

comfortnot likely, for they wore no gold.

Diggers uncovered no sartorial


clues, no Neolithic hoes, stone axe, household

chisels, pots. Remains hidden in a cave

suggest secrecy, illicit love, not told


to anyone in the village but saved

within pulsing vessels feeding the heart.

Did they long for afterlife, to engrave


their souls as each other's, loves martyrs?

Blanket these bones, let them not be parted.

Charlotte Mandel’s latest book of poetry, Through a Garden Gate with color photographs by Vincent Covello, is published by David Robert Books. Previous titles include two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision—The Life of Mary and The Marriages of Jacob. Awards include the New Jersey Poets Prize and two fellowships in poetry from New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Critical essays include a series on the role of cinema in the life and work of H.D. Visit her at



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