The Eternal City

Jim Simmerman

 
Sometimes I picture your face on money.
But this isn’t Rome, where they know
what money’s worth, which is almost
the paper it’s printed on (a kind of art),
and where I stared what seemed eternity
into a guidebook, lost, side-skipping
pigeon past, motorbikes, and swarms
of gypsy tykes excavating the ruins
of tourists’ pockets, until I stumbled
onto the Temple of the Golden Arches-
McDonald’s!- and across the piazza,
the Pantheon.... Inside, third niche left,
alone a moment with the Ossa et cineres
of Raphael, I thought of you; “put it all
in the poem” was your advice so, okay,
here you are! – among the camcorders,
cell phones, retired gods, and a pair of
kings – rumpled, broke, and amused
as you were the Green Mountain morning
you asked: among us who was writing
for posterity?, and one of us knew. Bill,
I haven’t paid you your due, but need
another favor: could you please undie
so I can buy you the glass of good
rosso in the Eternal City I owe you?
               William Matthews, poet and teacher (1942 – 1997)
 
Copyright © 2005 Jim Simmerman. Used with permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

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