In the Ashmolean – by Duncan Chambers


The Italian kids with the red rucksacks
circle each other like cats.
They all want selfies with the scribe Amenhotep,
with Zeus from Artemision.

I have a plastic bag and sandwiches
for later in the Parks.
But first I will sit a while in this small side room,
re-read the faded label:

clay tablet, Minoan, linear C. Symbols nobody can read
or ever will. Olive groves,
a marriage settlement, the boundaries of a field?

Perhaps, but I am free to think it could tell me,
if it chose, the songs the women sang at dusk,
in Aphrodite’s temple, brushing each other’s hair.




Duncan Chambers is a University researcher living in York and working in Sheffield. He has been writing poetry (with gaps) since the 1980s and has been published in various magazines including Ambit, The Rialto, Stand, The Interpreter’s House and The North.

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