Friday, September 7, 2012

David Hopes

 Approaching the Piazza Navona

 I know too much history.
  Without it I would have thought this
  some happy city which had, not too long ago,
  suffered a mishap, an earthquake,
  a contretemps with some neighboring, bombardiering power.
  All these ruins– brick and concrete, for the most part,
  look like home when they were ramming the Interstates
  through the old neighborhoods.
  The buildings are the colors of bodies:
  ivory and sand and cinnamon and sapwood.
  Even the churches under those great domes
  do not scorn to be–let’s face it– silly,
  with their Baroque saints lofting to the sky,
  hinder parts inevitably toward the audience;
  the popes, having outlived their moment
  even a thousand years ago, forever building
  something beautiful to be looked at,
  instead of them.

 Rome, in the house of garments
  yours is veronica and robin’s plantain (whatever
  they call them here) that nod and gossip in the Circus Maximus,
  weeks before spring, the green robe they decorate
  tied by Frangipanis’ tower so it drapes and billows in the wind.

 Rome, in the sea of song
  yours is bel canto sung from memory
  by a boy in the street, made playful and sexy
  in his mouth, changing the heroine’s name
  to the name of a girl who smiled more than once
  in that slanted brilliance at winter’s end.
  It does not need to mention wine
  to run with it, red and sweet.
  It does not need to mention the white flowers
  gripped into the ruined walls, holding with such
  suavity their difficult place.

 Rome, thy river among rivers,
  the green Tevere tamed by so many bridges,
  needs only the mention of its name
  to shake the Amazons, the Congos
  all be-crocodiled. The stone I tossed in
  rattled Caesar’s bones.

 Rome, the end point of thy story, now, is
  ten boys playing soccer in the Piazza Navona,
  letting Neptune assist with his burly shoulder,
  scattering the camera-ed tourists, making Bernini’s
  fountain-whitened visages, Pamphili’s pale ghost
  gliding under the porticos, making them smile
  that all their strife had come to this.
  The white ball goes into the air.
  All are watching, Muses, Demons,
  holding their various strange breaths,
  leaning from the white stones, rapt . . .


In the Piazza della Signoria

  Is it me,
   or do the colossi on the
   Piazza della Signoria
   yearn for each other with the cut of their eyes,
   with further tensing of the just-tested muscle,
   yearn beyond the scope of mortal yearning
   as their bodies exceed those
   even of these godly Florentines? --
   The stone of their hard chests
   craving the chests of stone,
   the tree-thick muscles of the thighs
   gleaming with the sweat of longing,
   wishing to be thrown down,
   weighted, pinned, against reason overcome,
   to be interrupted upon the beat
   by the grappler’s irresistible stone arms.
  I couldn’t be the only one to picture this.
  Look how they were arranged by someone
  amid their several perfections,
  gazing out, having triumphed,
  for someone to whisper against
  their marble cheek, “well done,”
  for someone to lay them to repose
  not thought of when they took up the sling,
  the sword, the cudgels of the opposing elements.


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