I. Good Friday
Dear S.--What a time to be abroad.
Closed are the Doge's Palace, the Guggenheim,
and La Fenice, on whose cracked facade
I scraped my shin pretending to wait in line.
Some joke. Even the Bridge of Sighs
is boarded up (Lavori in corso!)
with car ads and a water-stained blue sky.
Come three, no admittance to San Marco--
white-haired bouncers, sighing "turista,"
turned me away. (My Neapolitan's
worth peanuts here.) Skipping a siesta,
I watched a sunburnt couple feed the pigeons
and get chewed out by a cop. (It's illegal.)
"They're fasting," I said, "but try the
II. Holy Saturday
Exiled to the Loggia dei Lanzi,
I sit beside the leoni dei Medici
and contemplate the David
(well, its outdoor copy), obligated
to find it great. And so it is ... Oh, S.,
I'd love to see Forster's Florence,
or the Firenze that broke Michelangelo's nose.
In mine it rains. A man's face glows
by the light of his phone (the nouveau Baedeker),
then--click--he is a clocklike selfie-sticker,
turning his back to me on the hour. Yawning,
one blase kitty beneath our awning
(a far cry from the winged Venetian genus--
this one, sans gospel, is a humanist)
toys with the bocce ball in his paw,
where time has written lewd scrimshaw,
and dreams of meat. He eyes the trophy
Perseus parts from a contorted body--
its superfluous grape-bunched blood, the curl
of its skin like a wrinkled collar,
its full lips. Selfie man walks past and spits
at a Sabine's feet. A pigeon takes a shit
on horse-sick Cosimo. In the glowering dark,
deeper still for being outside the arc
of a floodlight, the Palazzo stands (mammoth
cubicle!), its castellated tower toothed
and black. Stone cold, I start for my pensione.
The Duomo's pitted face is Faberge.
The Baptistry's mum as a puzzle box,
just waiting for heaven to be unlocked.
III. Easter Sunday
Not morning Mass outside the Vatican
(a dead ringer for the Last Judgment
I imagine, only having seen the fresco
secondhand), nor the campy Trevi Fountain,
with its faux Anita Ekbergs and con men,
the Mouth of Truth (a drain), Via Veneto,
nor lunch, when out of my pizza dough
a spider sprang like Christ from an open
tomb--nothing could (forgive me) resurrect
this Roman holiday ... that is, until
I stumbled on the Forum (free), its Temple
of Saturn a winking portcullis (the architect
of ruins hates a door)--or just a sash and lintel,
with a view, dear S., that made me thank the rubble.