Poetry / Tegan Jane Schetrumpf

Gladiator

for Germaine Greer after the Festival of Dangerous Ideas

In the cut lip of the coliseum
within its raised arches of white
I came, in twenty-twelve, to see you fight.
For every man who loves to loathe
is a woman who loves to love:
my mother made you
our household god.
And I believed
she meant ‘god of the sword’.

The crowd – rather than slinking Juvenals,
were on their feet, roaring their frank applause.
That infamy which gives your name good odds
lost in a welcome home fit for the gods.

A seasoned gladiator entertains:
success is two-thirds pomp
and one-third blood.
Takes time to chew
the opponent’s remains
but you stopped – to implement first aid.
I watched you splint, with humour, skilfully
bones of the other women in the fray.

Beneath the shining armour
slashed with gore
another figure stood. I thought I saw
a Lares of the Crossroads wink an eye
tender and weary of the pageantry:
an alma mater
watching over me.

© Tegan Jane schetrumpf

Poem was first published in Long Glances.

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Germaine Greer

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