From the spatium of the boggy Circus Maximus
celebrants trill alleluia a capella,
We pace the ancient racetrack past them
in the wake of a gust of nuns.
We are visiting ephemera,
stony-eyed stalks of marble,
our febrile bodies
wax pale behind wrought gates.
We grasp gilted apses
in ornamented veneration without end.
We are gawking miniatures
suckling clementine desserts
from piccolo cucchiaios
scrabbling Roman slabs shooting selfies
among the ostentatious graves we haunt.
Starlings swarm over Rome
at dusk in pointillated counter-currents,
the delicately etched double hooks
of their thousand wings crest
into jet strokes then dissolve, clamour,
and thin out –
a threadbare chintz spread taught
over a dimming titian night.
Their murmuration whistles over the Tiber.