The Eternal City
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.