The victorious army marches into the city,
& not far behind tarries a throng of women
Who slept with the enemy on the edge
Of battlements. The stunned morning

Opens into a dust cloud of hooves
& drums. Some new priests cradle
Stone tablets, & others are poised
With raised mallets in a forest of defeated

Statuary. Of course, behind them
Linger the turncoats & pious
Merchants of lime. What's Greek
Is forged into Roman; what's Roman

Is hammered into a ceremony of birds
Headed east. Whatever is marble
Burns in the lime kilns because
Someone dreams of a domed bathhouse.

‘Lime’ from Talking Dirty to the Gods (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000), copyright © 2000 by Yusef Komunyakaa, used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

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