"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.

This article first appeared in the 19 November 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The plot against the BBC