By LYNN ROBERTS
In the blue hour of the evening
Herod has come to watch his sleeping son,
flung on the mattress like a peony,
no angles, only curves; his eyelashes
arcs of fine stamens and his fingers curled.
Water pats glassily on turquoise tiles
and honeysuckle breathes the scent of night;
the dark red rose relaxes, weeping
arterial petals on the marble floor.
What can the king be thinking as he sees
the round wrists and the plump feet flex and twitch,
the fingers grasp and stretch? and as he hears
the little snuffling moans? What’s in his heart?
A nightingale cries from the orange tree
over the drifts of petals on the stone.
‘Massacre in Houla’ won second prize in The Psychiatry Research Trust Poetry Competition 2012
About the poet
Lynn Roberts is an artist and an art historian specializing in the history of picture frames. She is the co-author, with Paul Mitchell, of A History of European Picture Frames and Frameworks (both 1996). Her poetry has been published in Outposts, Envoi, The Frogmore Papers, GRIST, The Shit Creek Review, The Tablet, Pulsar, Red Poets, Transparent Words and Agenda. She won the 2009 Listowel Writers’ Week Poetry Collection, and has won and been placed in numbers of other competitions; in 2011 she published Rosa Mundi, a sequence of poems, and Pandora’s Book, a collection of light verse.