Aphrodite of the Waters, by Mary Yntema


All we think now is stop stop stop.  

Three whole days in black walls

of frozen spears and icy nails

no up no down no sleep. 

What was it for this time?  Wool?

Hell. The storm does not hear us.

My mind turns to you, little friend,

to any sea that could be yours.


Like all young men, I prayed to high gods,

to the stars and winds, for fame.

I don’t pray correctly anymore.

Now I believe in things — 

my wife’s pink tongue in her teeth,

the smells of cooking and wine,

the skin of that boy in the sun,

my dog’s warm head, if he lives.


I suppose I am getting old.

I still have my nights of shouting

but at that place I like, with the fountain,

the madam sometimes lets me just sit 

and watch the girls chatting by the pool.

If we get to Smyrna I will slip away 

once my men are at their dice and knives

and offer something at your half-lost shrine.




Torso of Aphrodite, after Greek original of c. 350 BC. 100 BCE – 50 CE.

Creation Place: Smyrna (Ionia)?

Medium: Thasian marble

Arthur M. Sackler Museum 1900.17, Gift of Members of the Class of 1895

“[…] one of about twenty extant copies of a statue type currently known as Aphrodite Pontia-Euploia (Guardian of Sea Voyages).”