"Pavlopetri": a poem by Olivia Byard

“the oldest submerged townsite”

Now we know how their world
ended, not just with the seismic shift’s
tweaked foreshore, houses tipped
down to the shore-edge,
            but from
slow encroaching waters.
The sea lapped foundations
and crept into cellars, until
empty and derelict, they were
greedily claimed.

            Here, right now,
a road’s shaved by a sheered cliff,
and a house hangs by threads
from the land’s burst jaw;
            but there’s
wriggle space for us in the displacements
of ancestors, who took with them
just a fat wad of stories,
            and left behind
their best guest pots and chalices,
and tiny house graves
picked clean long ago by molluscs
and other bottom feeders.


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