Armenia, Capsian Gates, Caucasus Mountains, Ephesus, Greek myth, Marpesia, Marpesian Cliffs, poem, Poetry, sonnet
I have lived in the shadow of the Rocks
of Queen Marpesia, followed ruined
dusk, passing from ridge to ridge. Like beanstalks
and mad giants, men called you legend,
but they never followed where I followed;
from bud to bud—to apricot blossoms
in twilight gone faint—the petals tips glowed,
their pink hearts bending out. Once your war drums
beat here. Once you made brute northerners curse
the day that they headed south. Now cliff birds
are just shadows lost among the far cliffs.
I will never lose you; the universe
does not need grudging legends, myths and words
to see and name all your wisdom and gifts.
Marpesia was an Amazon queen who ruled with her sister, Lampedo (“Burning Torch”), the city of Ephesus (Efes in Turkish), on the coast of Ionia, near present-day Selcuk. Greek myth states her building a series of mountain cities hidden within the Caucasus Mountains, which were referred to by the Greeks as the Rocks of Queen Marpesia or the Marpesian Cliffs. The Caspian Gates, a legendary barrier supposedly built by Alexander the Great in the Caucasus to keep the barbarians of the north from invading the south is said to be a continuation of what the Amazonian queen started. Marpesia’s name means, “The Snatcher.”