Steve Xerri

Imagining the Lares

This is no age for loud-voiced gods like APOLLO
demanding to be set in uppercase; we have no place

for flesh made perfect in polished stone and niched
in the hallway. Life now happens among lost

bus timetables, tax demands, constant fluctuations
in the hub signal – while weak forces chip paint

from the doorframes, spot jampots with mildew,
subject us to the thinning of hair, the progressive

bend of bone. We have little commerce with things
immaculate, unvarying: give us rather the touches

of quantum godlings, their dabs found everywhere
in our brick-built houses, signing a unique presence:

theirs is the trefoil sprouting from the back step,
theirs the thread-legged spiders in the stairwell corners,

the groove dragged deep in the wood-block by the daily
bite of the breadknife, the colours we choose for curtains

and rugs. They watch by us as sparrows squabble
on the bird-feeders; keep company with us by firelight

in the deep trench of winter; are the ideas given sanctuary
under these pinewood eaves which grunt in the night

like living things. We offer them no hosannas, only
unvoiced thanks, an obscure pull toward reverence

at the sight, say, of sunlight that pours through glass
to pin a one-off complex of shadow branches

to the living-room wall – the sumac tree rendered faithfully,
a temporary print delighting us, their temporals.

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Imagining the Lares by Steve Xerri won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2019) judged by Terry Jones.

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