Author: William Doreski
Location: Peterborough, New Hampshire
William Doreski has published poems, essays, reviews, and fiction in many journals. His most recent book is Another Ice Age
(AA PRESS, 2007).
After a lengthy subway ride
we exit at Carthage, a field
of two hundred acres trimmed
with earthworks and escarpments
suggesting plowed fields on my aunt's
Connecticut Valley truck farm.
The Romans did a job here, turning
the earth, convincing grass to grow.
Still, Hannibal the One-Eye ran
them ragged, his elephants
trampling the Campagna flatter
than geology had. Good thing
the aqueducts hadn't been built
or the shudders would've toppled them.
No survivors of the Punic Wars
remain to march on Veteran's Day,
though North Africa lacks so glum
a holiday. Odd the subway
from Times Square should run so far,
but in a digital world the facts
of space and time no longer act
on their own. We trundle uphill
to the Roman graveyard. No stones
remain, but archaeologists found
bones and scraps of armor. Most
died of boredom during the siege.
Hannibal long gone, Carthage shrank
behind sod-mortared walls and starved.
The Romans kicked over the walls
and plowed the city and its dead
under the sultry turf and planted
rye grass to ward off the spirits.
We crest the ridge and catch a glimpse
of Mediterranean blue
much bluer than New York Harbor.
Back on the subway we discuss
whether Carthage is better off dead
or if a new city should rise there,
clarifying human history
and justifying a subway stop
that most people now assume exists
only in the small of our minds.