What Remains in the Ruins

You officials have set off — good riddance.
My grandmother lies in the dust you left,
working her hands into the ground that turns
to mud beneath the fountain of her tears.
When you came, it was like any other
waystation stop government people make.
What followed, we’d not yet known possible —
sure, there are always stories on the road.
The Christian group down the street often talks
about our incense and sacrifices.
You, though, brought black-robed men to smash temples.
You destroyed the votives my family
has given Artemis since before Rome,
the figurines and praise-dedications
when our women bore children and survived.
I can gather broken pieces — but where
will this cultural revolution end?
We don’t need holy books to know of gods.
The world is filled with them, pure beams filtered
through shadow-lanterns, approximated
when we tell our myths, carve icons, and sing.
My grandmother remembers the day she
gave birth to Father and she nearly died.
Artemis saved her, and so she gave thanks
in votive just like so many others.
Our temples were caverns of mementos.
Do not say that we welcomed your death-book.
You had weapons, and we had nothing.
Your god loathes difference, and we love it.
Destroy all the Roman Empire’s Temples?
Gods will still be here, peeking in through cracks.
We mourn, but for ourselves, not for them.
Our goddess never fears powerful men.
She is patient, all-hunting, deer-slaying.
If it takes a thousand years to find you,
she will send you — this empire — crumbling down.

[Kaye Boesme is a librarian who juggles writing and podcasting on the side. She has previously been published in Goblin FruitAstropoetica, and Eternal Haunted Summer (under her given name). Boesme blogs about Hellenism at KALLISTI: Essays and has a strong devotional practice involving a myriad of gods of creative and linguistic arts. On Twitter, she’s @KayeBoesme, where she spends most of her 280 characters talking about constructed languages and her other blog, Pangrammatikê, or her scifi podcast Epiphany.]