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Beauty caught me by the wrist and tied against my
will a thin blue cord she had severed from a loom.
A blade curved like a smile slipped deep into her sleeve.
Leave, she hissed, while you still can. I will distract them.

Who? Do not look back, our leader warned. Catch their eye
and they will steal our space. There is no greater doom
than to be hammered into place by those who seethe,
no room to breathe. You are still but a fragile stem.

Of what? We rode by caravan at night, a dry
and brittle wind our only company. The gloom
of blinding day confused. What all I once believed
evaporated. From the glare stepped forth—ahem…

Shaded form, he rocked from side to side. Your guide I
am, allied with formidable forces. Phlox bloomed
around his words. He snapped the thin blue cord. Achieve!
My will spilled out and from it fell a diadem.


This set of quatrains is metered in alexandrine, a medieval French line composed of twelve countable vowels. I’m not well versed enough yet to comprehend the masculine and feminine versions of alexandrines, nor the 6-6 hemistichs. All in good time, or not. Punic refers to Phoenician, those great and ancient mariners of the Mediterranean who, led by Queen Dido (Elissa), founded Carthage.

© Elaine Stirling, 2014
Image of remains of a Carthaginian wall, Tunis,
by author