Just moments ago,
I was sitting with the green-slatted shutters
Open to the courtyard. Then bells
Of a nearby church began to chime
Out a song for five straight minutes.
The soothing rain,
In Rome, when I would be seeing snow
At home, the shutters open to the Mediterranean
Cool of the courtyard, when my door would be
Shut to the cold. The powerful bells.
I am in Rome.
But it’s not that I am far away,
Just that Rome is nearer than I thought.
The catacombs served that point up to me:
How many times have I seen or studied
Paintings of St. Sebastian, whose iconography
Is known to me now. Today, standing in the crypt
Where the early Christians paid respect to him, then two feet
From his remains in the church above, he was nearer
To me than I thought he could be.
Just as St. Peter became so yesterday at the Vatican,
And as Rome did just this moment
With the fresh air, rain and bells.
There was a moment, looking for the Pantheon
When I was frustrated, winding, close to giving up,
When I turned and saw the columns and rotund curve
Hulking at the end of the piazza. I seemed to be standing
In a tiny, old world street, glimpsing a picture of a
Great society. Then, I turned, and walked into the postcard.
I spoke to my husband,
Far away with his snow, winter and children.
I wished, like all those other things that fleshed themselves
Out in front of me, that I could make him real and present, too.
But felt only the distance between us.