CAPRICCIO OF ROMAN RUINS - Rosemary Sullivan Poems


Poems » rosemary sullivan » capriccio of roman ruins


We, the living ones, are distinguishable
from those we move among, people of stone,
by the red and blue of our robes,
the blood-glow of face, knee and arm.
We lounge on the worn steps beneath
the last arch of a shattered roof
where the vegetation hangs, and two of us
are arguing a point, gesturing
to the empty pure blue sky. Another, alone,
dangles his feet in a little pool of rain water,
leaning against a toppled frieze; and one walks,
very slowly, back and forth, before the breached
dome of a tomb. But in the frieze
those others, grey or white, in colorless
garments of rock, are lounging
on their elbows by a little pool.
Or on the surface of a huge urn, filled now
with accidental dust and vines,
those carved ones talk and circle slowly
through eroded façades and marble alleys.
And there is one statue intact: a naked giant
leaning negligently against
a broken column which had long been a ruin
already, centuries ago, when first he relaxed
and upright, with open eyes, here fell asleep.
So it goes back and back before us:
this leisure among the given remains.