Archaeological (Flora AD 79)


she has her back to us

her neck, bare feet mid-stride
house girl / nymph / Primavera / PR goddess
turned to reconsider some old weed
she holds it precisely, regards its taxa, kinfolk.

quickly drawn, one of a dozen for the new rooms
with themed bric-a-brac: amphora in the corridor,
the brass lamp goes with the rope-motif cushions,
goes with the ship-in-a-bottle on the bookshelf

call it sur la mer
the Mar-a-Lago of its time
primo views of the bay, billionaires jetting in
cruise ships and the stink of the city way off.

how each day is divided,
minutes jostling —
a bright line zips
future into past.

another king had her chiselled
from the igneous trash, piled with the curios —
kept in a shed — flakey plaster, a crack through her arm
at the elbow, someone spackled the break.

behind glass, fly specks in the Museo Archeologico
now she turns from a fire extinguisher
and directional signage in 5 languages. So quiet here
abandonned, only pigeons and the fall of sunshine.

I have a postcard, bought 16 years ago in Pompeii
…………………………………so poignant that in one day…

ash stained gown
going back over
with a fine brush
it comes away, each line.

the Circumvesuviana back to Naples —
turisti, students, housewives, teachers
pressed close in the heat, breath, sweat, texts
the young lovers in back kissing like fucking

she arches her back, he says how bad he wants her
the sway of the train the beat of their hips
and all around them disappeared — the filthy floors,
the hungry eyes — gone like a veil of ash.

I’m kissing you (ages ago)
your untied hair across us
darkening the pines
holding your eyes until only green —

each line proceeds to its end
and returns with new questions — what remains?
what will continue, what won’t?
there’s new air, the fish are back and the birds.

maybe Flora isn’t plucking the flowers but placing them
Spring walks the fields and here she is
balancing a blossom on its stem
and with one goddess glance fixes it there.

Hey uber-capitalists, divinity has her back to you
she doesn’t give a fuck for your hothouse chrysanthemums
or faux-leather golf clubs, but the weedy
the unprepossessing…

she’s ahead of us down that green lane
cryptic — holding the stem
taking the bloom / placing the bloom
there, still — in mid-stride —

Image: ‘so called Flora’, from wall of Villa Arianna, Stabiae, Italy c/- Naples National Archaeological Museum / Public domain.

And for music it’s always a good day for Bach – here’s Icelandic super-star Vikingur Olafson with Bach’s Organ Sonata No. 4. 


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