Friday, May 2, 2008

Rome Poem

For the last 7 days, I've been working on Rome layouts in an altered book for a round robin group I'm in ... all the imagery, & memories of my own trip there and to Tuscany, inspired this poem. I may or may not include it in the altered book.

Rome will confiscate your voice,
but magnify your vision:
too much, so much, all this!
If you let it,
Rome especially will
amplify your hearing to
invoke a melody of then, & now.
Time as you know it is erased in Roman light --
the sun shimmering on 2,000 year old walls, &
the same sun glinting off the windshields of
myriad tooting scooters,
the all-encompassing sun that
sees not only you,
but the presence of all those
who came before,
still alive in the light-shapes
surrounding you,
& reflecting you, & illuminating you.

And if you hear voices, it is not lunacy.
In Rome, you are standing at one of the
global portals where eras intersect --
and "now" becomes whatever you see,
and what (because of it) your mind &
imagination then conjure --
perhaps the hot breath of chariot horses
mingling with the steam of
fresh coffee in chilled dawn air;
the final accusatory cries of Julius Caeser
somehow harmonizing with an
Armani-suited businessman on his cell phone;
the pastry recipe you choose for lunch
seasoned with the lineage of all the women
who passed it down to,
and through,
the one serving you.

If you hear voices,
you are the exceptional guest --
not like most tourists
gliding over surfaces with their
itineraries & maps & cameras,
losing themselves in explanatory brochures
wordy with facts & figures,
instead of in the ART
everywhere before their eyes --

the sculpture-river-sun-eyes-angels-
shawls-suits-alleys-iron keys-pasta-
heels-espresso-pastry bliss

that is the flavor of Rome for
those who SEE & LISTEN,
the patient and the open-hearted.

Rome wants you to
stand on the Spanish Steps & see
not only the immediate,
but the cumulative sights,
to hear not just the traffic
& the tour guides but
the collective stories,
still told, still resounding --
to touch the edges of a community well and
feel your palm overlaying the imprints of
10,000 similiar dreamers who paused there --
for a sip, to draw up a bucket, to ask after
the welfare of a neighbor.

If you let it,
Rome will commend you to a vastness only
comprehended through soul-listening,
by means of sensory contact, via
visceral connection of yourself to
all who were.

Your eyes meet theirs;
your fingertips touch;
your pulses join.

If you hear voices, you have been
singled out and welcomed,
and you are invited to
join your voice with
the others in the
that IS

Toni Brown
May 2, 2008