Ephesus – a poem by Stapleton Nash


Bridges bejewelled in graffitied padlocks;
Lover’s lakes and lanes and arches.
There are not many monuments built and left up
To the women who walk alone.

But they live, these women. They possess
An architecture of their own.

No pair of lovers, if it were up to me,
Should be permitted to cross the threshold
Of Mary’s house in Ephesus.
Every kiss seems so trivial now,
Each caress a foolish empty gesture,
Every pound of the heart an insult
To what went on here.

And what did? Nothing much.
A few interviews, perhaps some nights under siege,
But mostly silence.
A woman spending her days in solitary vigil,
Mourning for something lost
That was never really hers.

She turned her wedding bed into a ghost ship
For the promise that someone else would benefit.
Whether you believe she died
touched by no one but god in the desert wind,
Or, after her great feat, suffered to descend
Into ordinary motherhood, remembering the lost days
Of a skin floating free and unencumbered by men’s hands
With pride, with nostalgia, with bitterness–
It is certain that when she died, here in this house,
There was no one to kiss her, caress her,
No reason for her heart to pound.

Stand apart from one another
And try to comprehend that loneliness is,
In itself, a labour of love. Every soul
Is born motherless. You have come to Ephesus
To do nothing but walk through a doorway.
Don’t bring your family with you.
The photographs won’t come out.

Stapleton Nash was born and raised on Vancouver Island, where she grew up swimming, beach-combing, and writing letters to imaginary mermaid friends. Since then, she has lived in Montreal, where she studied literature, and more recently has been teaching English to children just outside of Taipei. She has had poems published in NewMag and The Mark.


  1. Morgan Driscoll says:

    Haunting Stapleton.
    I music woven through made this beautiful to read (my lips moving slightly as I did). I don’t understand it all, but that is of small matter in this case.


    1. Stapleton Nash says:

      Thank you Morgan!


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