. Isolde and the Men of Stone Who could believe, except on ancient trust? The stones grew pliant, yielding into shape When softer nature touched them; human forms Emerged, as marble figures half-begun. —Ovid, Metamorphoses, I, 400-406 Her mind a buzzing hive, Isolde walks On gaping earth. An excavator’s teeth Biting the loam-thick carpet of the ground Had trenched and torn out many hidden things. Eagerly she stoops to gather up The bones Deucalion flung in iron times To midwife men—her basket holds them all: Quartz flesh veined with feldspar, agate eyes, Sandstone hands, and for the myriad brain A lump of jasper swirled with twining dendrites. In clay Isolde finds one perfect piece Of variegated onyx, like a heart. These curios she keeps within her garden To set off moss and flowers; meanwhile weeds Have closed and knitted up the open wound. . . Demetrius, Maker of Gods, Recounts a Conversation with Saint Paul And you see and hear that this Paul by persuasion hath drawn away a great multitude, not only of Ephesus but almost all of Asia, saying: They are not gods which are made by hands. —Acts, 19:26 I said to him, for us Love is a god Fashioned from a block of pure peach marble Here in this small shop where stone flakes fly And the hiss of smoothing pumice whistles. So much divinity! Look about you, Paul— You may see them circling the boy Eros As if in pantheon, or on Mount Olympus: Aphrodite shaped in alabaster White as the churning sea-foam she rose from; Thoth in black obsidian, the master Of all hidden wisdom’s secret lore; Sundered Osiris carved in porphyry As multihued and varied as the rainbow; Artemis: ice-white spar with moonstone eyes Pale as her virgin crescent, and see here Apollo in finest Parian, as though Born to no other flesh, and that flesh breathing The coldest air of timelessness. Take note Of grape-stained Bacchus, smiling though unconscious, Who stares past stiff, granitic Priapus While Mithra rides the blood-red jasper bull. Still, the Jew Paul would not have it so, Laughed at what he called idolatry And spoke of an altar to THE UNKNOWN GOD. I asked: An altar of what precious stone? . . Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide. He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria and writes for Expansive Poetry On-line. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College.