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Self-Portrait as Helen, Exiled in Egypt


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Helen has a photograph of flaming
Troy mounted within a thin maroon frame
on the wall of her apartment. It hangs

above a round table with a wicker
base. Matching chairs roll clumsily on small
brass wheels. She's gracious to the Egyptians,

(after escaping capture as Spartan
house-slave) helping prepare the royal dead
before they're sent to priests, sewing small cloth

bags to hold hearts in their canisters. Plants
are absent from her home. She has no cat
or annoying colored bird, miming noise

like young Cassandra before Troy was sacked.
Helen stacks moldy clay bowls in towers.
Blue mold grows in amber cups, eats remnants

of fruit juice. She loosely shapes paper plates
in slant pyramids; cityscapes composed
of yogurt containers, black apple cores

and medicine vials. Paris's bright shrine
is modeled in soda cans. Her bedroom:
mounds of stratified mail: bank statements, slick

magazines, old wedding invitations.


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post #62
bio: john ball
perma-link
4/2/2005
10:49

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April - National Poetry Month 2005

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