How The Conquerors Settled

Gary Metras

Athens’s Archeological Museum

It is well known the Romans coveted
the bodies of Greek statues, the way a discus
thrower’s carved back bulges and sways

against the immovable horizon, the soft
curve of Aphrodite's marble breasts, her dress
rippling to stone toes about to lift in dance,

but mostly they envied the grace of shoulders,
of buttocks soothing the ragged hills and
the rigid columns as the unforgiving summer

sun was leached of its harshness
by holy arm and calf muscles shadowed
on the parched ground, so that, as victors

settling into the next Hellenic city,
they removed the Greek heads and set atop
those worthy necks the stony brows of

Caesars and Hadrians, masters of all,
as long as they could conquer a body
to mount their ambitions on.