Say I know you're in Rome
where it's 2:00 in the afternoon. I'm
in my garden concentrating on a fire ant
venturing farther from his nest than his cohorts,
dizzying the dogs. In the background I make out
a shape that might be fountain or rose window.
In my notebook, I draw water pouring from a pump
and see you sitting on the lip of heaven, but I know
that can't be because it's Rome, so I try again—
you're sitting at a café table near a waterfall
where what tumbles seems a torrent of syllables
shaped like lips and birds. One of the dogs
begins to yip in tune with something
I can't hear, and you're suddenly as clear as glass,
Where they were, grass reached
to such feathery heights
on the perimeters,
they were invisible except
by air, if anyone had flown there,
or when wind and rain flattened
the green walls, making them,
for an hour or two, into prairie.
Children might have been seen
from time to time,
tramping narrow paths out
and in, their bodies like flashes
of sun at the edges,
ropes and bows and arrows
slung over their narrow shoulders.
From somewhere, as everywhere,
soldiers crept up and followed
those beaten trails. They watched
and they waited.
The villagers had guessed at dangers,
but chose the whistling grasses
in seven circles. They lived
in peace, mostly, marrying
into nearby villages.
They were called by gentle names.
without speaking of it, what the end
might be, so every day, after lunch
and the necessary chores,
they spread blankets in the shade,
napped, made love, ate their fill
of berries and roasted boar,
and in the evenings invented
new dances, and danced.