A View of Rome

What you can’t see is
how hard it is to get to Tiber Island,
locked as it is between two streets
that remind you of America—
busy, multi-lane death traps
Vespas zoom down,
weaving & beeping
the length of Lungotevere

or the art on the river wall—
power washed figures dancing.
giant like old gods,
their shadow shapes wavering
at the bottom of steps hued
into rock, leading down to banks
covered in garbage & dog shit
where people jog,
where you are warned not to go at night,

& the Tiber herself, moving slowly
away from Vatican City—
the color like water after painting,
a silver sludge from centuries of dipping,
brush to canvas, brush to water
the whisper of a drowned history.

If you squint, you might just make out
a gelato shop— the one near the piazza
where Ubers will pick you up
when the taxis are striking again —
that has rose as a flavor,
lets you get a taste of petals.

 

Juliette Givhan
The Arts Center Poetry Intern