Halibut heads and lobster claws
Discarded rinds of bread
Interlinking rings of wine
Allowed to sink and stain
Left littered on the floor

Surely we have missed the feast?
Did we then mishear the date?

Not at all
It is the latest style
To have these painted tiles
Placed underfoot to fool the eye

Painted to the life!
Realistic are they not?

Call the servants in
Have ‘Hercules’ attempt
Sweeping clean away
Our custom-painted debris   –
That will be the floor-show for today



Two doves drink from a fountain cup
See their ruffles of pearl   –    
They dip and sip their reflections
Pliny has depicted them
Immediately life-like

Although it is now
Fifty-five A.D. look closely
You may see
Your own grace and nobility
Passingly reflected by your profile
Through clarities of water pure and clear
It was not Pliny placed it there   –
But I hope you may approve it


Bernard Saint
Illustration: Claire Palmer




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