The Rise of Rome
Rose like a fog off a lake at dawn as the bus rolled past, a young man nodding sleepily against the glass.
Rose from the runway like an airplane that has not long to live.
Rise, the pastor told us, and we rose from our pews and fingered the books because we knew
our time was short. We sang and bowed our heads, then kneeled.
It was a gorgeous empire in its brick and marble. Gorgeous,
like a new car, all windshield and chrome. I wanted to touch it, to slide my finger along the headlight's bee-eye of glass and not think about it overturned in a field, the wheels slowing and the cockpit just smoke. Rise, the gods said in their wisdom and rings. Rise, in their fingers nettled over with scars, in their whimsical and gratuitous anger and love. Rome rose and rose like a fog and we said yes to the gods and played our guitars. Yes and boarded our planes, or drove the long roads outside of the city where the sun came down and no one plowed it away. It was a lovely time, faster and faster like smoke. The baths and the aqueduct, the opulent quarter and the less opulent. I swam in perfume while my servants ate mice, while the borders collapsed and planes crowded the skies. Oh give me, give me, I said to the gods who grinned around their crystal balls. It was always summer while Rome was rising. The pastor said kneel. The gods just laughed. We spread our beach towels on the sand and collapsed.