Interpol 22019-1.7: The Head of the Hatra Apollo

Missing from the National Museum, Baghdad, April 2003

No light can gild the sun god’s cheek but strains
through burlap now, Phoibos the refugee,
his head a marble cabbage in a sack
jouncing east by pickup down a dirt track
across Seleucid wastes, Parthian plains,
once more fortune’s tourist, bobbing free.
Or not—just stashed behind a rubbish mound
where bare-boned goats might crop a scraggy meal,
scant miles from the museum’s shattered room.
Stripped of laurels, his oracles, his loom
of sacred strings, no Horai here spin round,
just pacing men who wait to close the deal.
A goatherd sings, slings a Kalashnikov:
the godhead mute since looters hacked it off.

More Poems by Peter Spagnuolo