Sunset in Frascati
published in Salt River Review
A steep drop of crystal cliffs
led me down to the child's grotto.
Beyond that, a thin strip of molten sea.
A dead baby
was tossed before the altar.
(Coming closer, I saw with relief
it was only a lump of clothes.)
Kneeling there, listening.
Far off, a motor roared in anguish
over its broken muffler, a radio
thumped heavily beyond the vines,
and the violators were chipping away
at the hills in search of pre-Christian tombs.
I heard them, the mad motors, the greedy mystics
and their pickaxes attacking the hills.
You took on trust
I would respect your secret wilderness
beyond the tidy, sequestered paths,
or I'd get bored by
so many rows upon rows of cindered
ferns that I wouldn't venture far
or stay long.
But I stumbled upon it
in the blades flattened around a pedestal,
each weathered blade of grass
seeming to join in a script
the name of someone, you know who I mean,
the woman who was covered with tubes,
who even then was writing in her head: