JULIET’S HOUSE, VERONA
It is quite possible she lived elsewhere.
for I did not come to sniff her trail,
nor even to posture at that faded balcony
clogged with the ivy of legend.
I came to watch from upstair windows
the crowd of devotees with slung cameras,
and to marvel how we expend
our allotted pittance of hours
in exploring and touching
the mottled walls of fables, inventing
great spaces of fantasy
within the medieval-ness of cramped rooms,
and with the tempera of our blind faith,
creating Love’s temple
in so meagre a house.
Crossing the courtyard I stand before
the girlish statue, monument
to the Eternal Other,
and to our first memory of joy and pain and perfection,
as false as the myth of this house
and just as true.
THE SINGING STONES: Baths of Caracalla
My cavernous soul sprouts grass. Wind tufts choke
my gap-tooth walls, jeer at my deafness.
But I am not unhearing. I have hoarded
the whispers of each age, time’s nagging voice.
What’s a bit of grass or wind? Mere passing of seasons,
minor crops compared to my vast stony harvest
cruel in its knowledge:
footfalls fade; the leaves fall.
So, bring on the melody, sweeten the blow.
It’s time for Verdi’s tenors and sopranos
on moon-drugged nights,
to drown the dead past.
Pour the music into my skull, like myrrh to steaming water
and I shall turn a deaf ear against
the airs and arias of this age too.
I keep secrets well, lock my invisible doors
after the singers and the stragglers leave,
and the noisy azalea bushes fall quiet.
This is but the overture; I have long centuries to keep
before my song reaches the ears
beyond my non-existent roof.