Their smoke hangs, hardly seen. The words are ash
that named them, loved them. Honour those wisps
the lovers of lost poets. Hairstyles, lisps,
bracelets, faint traces of a strawberry rash
when she ate herring – all these things are gone
that were once real things turned to witty verse.
Time chance moth fire a tyrant’s jealous curse
sent fair Lycoris to oblivion
whom Gallus loved, Gallus we’ve never read.
Augustus killed him. Did Lycoris mourn
her lover? We don’t know where she was born
or lived, but can be certain that she’s dead
Two thousand years her name has been asleep.
They will forget us too, perhaps, so weep.