Birds of Rome

That crow guaranteed my entrance to the cult of grappa
at the bar in Monteverde where my heartache weighted
the floorboards. This one will pick the lock on my desk
where someone carved Beware all who enter —. I love the Roman
day that feels like 2, invite the swallow to follow me to my neighbor
child, Bruno, 8, while he conducts the doves: “LOUDER!”
as they finish sipping Campari droplets from the ATM gutter
while I lean over my window-box letting flowerwater drip down 2
stories. I’ve leaned all Spring beside the lemons and fallen asleep
on my huge pink desk, I tilt lowdown to the river gods’ invisible arms.
When I was a girl in Rome, you could smell the woods inside the
alcoves; I offered crumbs & straws to the laborers weaving nests into the
Janiculum and sat on a bench before the viale rustica waiting
with secrets & shadows.
Now sun-shards blink off cane & stroller handles,
& pods sweating money. Stop interrupting me, fractures in the sizzling street,
I’ve sketched you. I circle the Pantheon twice, take my seat, wait, 8 a.m., chilled,
sweaterless, sipping from a cup with a lion’s face. Now the firemen
scale the dome and reach the oculus with sacks of rose petals they will
drop down through the eye: Pentecost.
I forget the blood-popes & gold-
mongers, it’s possible to fall in love with a building, as I have
among the pilgrims. I enter the vestibule, celebrating the lamb’s
sharp hoofs. “The ocean is so big, how will we get over it?” I asked
my father. “There is a huge tall bridge and we will walk right across it,”
he said, daydreaming, thinking I was afraid. I was learning to read, &
memorizing people as birds. He was a swivel-brained owl, my brothers
were bald eaglets, mother a swan splaying her daily costume. I was a head
w/glasses, question-mark. Now the river’s green lungs lift with herons.
Sheets of light peel off the waters. A surge lifts a fountain of Aquafina bottles.
Two gulls touch down to the silver knives of their nestlings’ open beaks.

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