Poems of the Week

Down Pompeii

by Julia Griffin

“Tourist returns stolen artefacts from Pompeii ‘after suffering curse’
… The Canadian woman, identified only as Nicole, sent a package containing
two mosaic tiles, parts of an amphora and a piece of ceramics to a travel agent
in Pompeii, in southern Italy, alongside a letter of confession. …

‘Please, take them back, they bring bad luck,’ she wrote.”
The Guardian

The spirits of Pompeii are very loath to be disturbed.
A wish to rob their households is a wish that should be curbed;
Recall Nicole from Canada, who yielded to the aura
Of two mosaic tiles, a shard, and parts of an amphora.

She smuggled them from Naples with her other souvenirs,
And in her chilly northern home they waited many years.
Meanwhile, Nicole, though doubtless much revering them at first,
Was slowly made to feel herself inevitably cursed.

No need to list the nasty things the pilferer endured;
They soaked her like the waters of an overflowing fjord,
Till, medically sick of the avenging bric à brac,
She bowed her head in penitence and sent the whole lot back.

In picturesque Pompeii, upon the rich volcanic loam,
Two tiles and bits of pottery embrace their proper home.
The local gods are smiling, but, to coin an apothegm:
Unless your name’s Vesuvius, don’t mess about with them.