She doesn’t speak Italian, but she loves this ruin:
How the broken, tenacious travertine
Palms the sky
And awaits its libations.
“So old and ugly,” she praises,
Brushing the stone like an infant’s forehead
With scarred fingers
That should’ve been a pianist’s.
Age, erosion, evolution—
It’s all a great con,
A lie the privileged told themselves so often
They came to believe it.
Four million last month for Mercury’s caduceus.
When she pried it from the Coliseum,
She almost kept it
Out of spite, she lied.
But what use is a psychopomp’s staff
To a Vestal Virgin
Destined to feed the sacred fire
Upon which Heaven so dearly depends?
Transience is what matters
As the hourglass sands trickle down.
Of course she speaks Italian.
Of course she is afraid.
A crack in the wall fans out like crow’s feet
And she worships the wrinkle with her hands
Until it vanishes into a thousand tributaries.
She swallows back her envy—
And turns away.