I didn’t know – I got the ticket from a tout.
He didn’t say about the Greeks, or going through the gate.
He just said it would be a blast: he said it might be dark,
at first, there might be quite a crowd,
but soon I’d hear some squealing, then a jerk,
and it would start to move (though it was led
by human hands, not necromancers’ work,
no engineering). I thought he was mad, but still
I paid my hard-earned buck and joined the folk
who straggled to the ladder in a line, climbed
the struts among the seasoned, hair-caulked planks
and waited until all humanity, or so it seemed
had joined me in the belly of that odd ark.
Did you ever buy a ticket from a politician?
They can sell a cookbook to a goose,
a gander to a peeping Tom, a voyeur
to a peeping piper and a pickled peck to Peter,
they sell coals to porters, port to sherry-swilling geezers,
reasons to boozers, weasels to floozies, the kneesup
to Mother Teresa, cheeses to Jesus, frozen measles
to rhesus monkeys, monks to flunkies, flunkies to junkies,
to lowlife djinns, sins in tins to Finns with double chins.
A politician can sell a lanyard to a Spaniard,
rain to Spain, porn to Sean, shells to Michelles, see,
he can sell, she can sell, seashells to the seashore.
I didn’t know they would be Greeks inside that horse
until the little trapdoor shut behind me, clicked
and I heard one of them speak. I thought ‘of course:
they’re speaking Greek,’ — at least, to me, a Pict,
it sounded like they might be ταλκινγ ιτ. It wasn’t me
— I didn’t know the plan at all. I bought my ticket
from a man who may as well have spoken Nørse
disguised as British straight talk. Foreigners –
apart from jagged edges in the way they spoke
they had such a whiff of winedark sea, white shores,
olives, and rings of still-warm fennel bread, baked
in villages on hills and sold by blackeyed boys:
boys trained, far too young, to walk in traffic.
Claudia Daventry has lived in various European cities working as a writer, teacher and translator. She moved to Fife from Amsterdam in 2007 to do an MLitt at St Andrews. She has won several awards and commendations, and is now researching a PhD. Her most recent and publication is her 2015 pamphlet The Oligarch Loses His Patience, from Templar.