THE ELGIN MARBLES
are named for a thief.
An original hack he sawed off pieces of the great friezes
and pediment figures and sacked them
taking them back to London
to be displayed for the empire.
No one dares estimate their worth
now that the Greeks are being called
to mend the flaws
in the European version of the global neo-capitalist game.
But then, this money changing roulette
demands its slaves
and its empty spots are routinely spackled
over by the poorest in the realm.
That slaves built the banks
is never denied; that they are still required
is a matter of rhetoric
and a polite way we speak of those
who are relegated to the austerity of the poor.
No matter: the flaws
in what remains of the Parthenon
have their patches too.
After the Christians toppled the naked gods
and the Turks and Venetians
blasted holes into Athena's temple
when it had been made into a munitions dump
someone other than the Greeks
gave the permission
for the great marbles to be hacked off
and carted away.
What is this worth?
Who has paid whom for what? Note
the history even more remote:
After the Persians sacked the city
and destroyed the sacred space
at the top of the Acropolis
the Greeks returned
and buried their ruined temples
we can still see colors
in the eyes of snakes.