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Standing Where the Colossus Stood

by Timothy Liu

To be an ancient wonder, you have to be able

to disappear. Take the Colossus: nine tons
of silver transmuted into legendary bronze

that stood for less than a century on an island

just off the coast of Asia Minor where Helios
still reigns—invisible rays bursting forth

now luring sundry tourists by the boatload

to partake in whatever remains of his glory—
bodies kissed by winter soon burnished

into something the world can love—Adonises

in Speedos riding in tandem on the backs
of Vespas rumbling zigzag down Orfanidou

to nightly bacchanalias, oblivious to forces

in the earth that’d shake our god to his knees—
crushing houses that stood in his shadow

as he collapsed, then carted off by Persians

piece by piece over the centuries, our hero
melted down to myth and redistributed

throughout the world, no longer the god

straddling a harbor nor reclining on his side
in a field where the acropolis still stands

among weeds—four Ionian columns enough

to reconstruct a temple in the mind as we
crawl among the ruins, ant-like, disposable

cameras and the latest digital technologies

burning our poses into history, trying to make
the moment last, all of us wanting to show

how we obeyed when the god called our names.


Timothy Liu is the author of five books of poems, most recently Of Thee I Sing (University of Georgia Press, 2004). A new book, For Dust Thou Art, is forthcoming from Southern Illinois. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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