Ange Mlinko

Cooked in Their
Own Ink

Byblos—unreclaimed by the sea
 through which it nurses
myth, grudges sand to its neighbors—
 is visited no more by goby,
gilthead bream, octopuses…
 Impresarios of fresh labors

have gone elsewhere, though
 orchards of pomegranate
and lemon flourish amid ruins,
 sepulchres repurposed, as though
a new dynasty to admit;
 like the melting down of coins,

bells, the material persists.
 First, Chinese scholars
abandoned far-flung pavilions.
 Alexandrian scribes; archivists
from Córdoba; illuminators
 of Celtic vellum; civilians

drafted into the holy orders
 of manuscript hoarders;
were next to come to Byblos,
 last resort and headquarters
for stylus-conscious courtiers
 and scriptural sibyls

at their philias, their alphabets.
 I know “it is here
that the banished gods are in hiding.”
 Children chisel fridge magnets
of fish fossils off grottoes
 for tourists of writing.