Alessio Zanelli

Mare Nostrum poem
Crystal turquoise water near Cala Pira, Sardinia, Italy

Mare Nostrum

The sun still rises from the Dardanelles,
draws an arc to Africa
and sets upon the Pillars of Hercules,
while the eagle has ceased to sweep the surge,
does not fly from end to end anymore.

Sunken down the shoals
off the French Riviera,
hulks of warships act as treasure chests
to the thrill of blue-eyed divers
from outside the acknowledged world.

Someplace around Byzantium,
forlorn in the dark of a crypt
under layers of later erections,
the gold insignia Odoacer shipped to Zeno
await retrieval and upholding.

Looked-after by zealous Italic sitters,
ebony-skinned children
of well-to-do Germanic families
gather colored pebbles on the shingles
of Capri’s exclusive inlets.

On the sand of deserted beaches
along the Gulf of Taranto,
captive in the spirals of fossilized shells,
the trumpet of Hannibal’s exhausted elephants
reechoes through the millennia.

First published in Poetry New Zealand (New Zealand)