Friday, July 10, 2015

word of the day: machicolation

On either side of the gate rose square towers
faced with white marble, one pierced by
a narrow door, too low to enter without stooping.
Beyond it, ramps and stairs twisted upwards
through the mass of stone. At the halfway point
the lights failed: it was completely dark.
We lit improvised tapers, emerging at length
on the broad summit of the tower.

The students posed for a group portrait against
a backdrop of machicolations and the sea,
but the elevation made me giddy and my knees weak,
so I descended alone, stumbling in the dark.

lines from John Ash’s “The Tour”

definition (according to the Oxford English Dictionary): Archit. An opening between the corbels which support a projecting defensive parapet, or in the floor of a gallery or the roof of a portal, through which combustibles, molten lead, stones, etc., could be dropped upon assailants below. Also: a projecting structure having a range of such openings.

source: The Anatolikon by John Ash
2000. Talisman House Publishers, Jersey City, NJ

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