Sue Burke (mount_oregano) wrote,
Sue Burke

Pompeii haiku

I recently visited an exhibition of artifacts from Pompeii, the Roman city buried by the ash and lava of Mt. Vesuvius when it erupted in 79 A.D.

"It grew dark, not the darkness of a cloudy or moonless night, but of a closed room when the light goes out," wrote Pliny the Younger, who managed to escape from a nearby town. "There resounded the moans of women, the cries of children, the shouts of men. Some called for their fathers or mothers, others for their children, others for their wives. They tried to find each other by voice. Some deplored their fate, others the fate of their loved ones. Some, too afraid to go on, pleaded for a fast death. Many raised their hands toward the gods. But many more believed that there were no gods anywhere and that night would be eternal, the final night of the world."

The exhibition included a few of the plaster forms of people who had been trapped beneath the falling ash. Their bodies eventually wasted away, creating a mold. Archaeologists probed for these as they uncovered the city 18 centuries later, and when they found one, they would pour down plaster to recreate the shape left behind, portraits of desperation.

One of the forms, which I photographed, shows a man sitting on the ground, holding his tunic up to his face.

shadow from Pompeii
in three solid dimensions
still struggles to breathe

Tags: writing

  • Dad’s three rules for success

    Late one Friday when the fish weren’t biting, Dad decided we could spend our time better having a beer at the little tavern in Green Lake Terrace,…

  • To burke or not to burke

    I have a common name. “Susan” ranked big in the decade when I was born. The surname “Burke” came to England and Ireland with the Normans and soon…

  • Felipe VI, Superking?

    King Juan Carlos I did not want his son to “wither” like Prince Charles of Great Britain waiting for the crown to pass to him. So on June 2, after 39…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.