Ghita Orth: Roman Busts

Aging ourselves, we’d come to check out
ruins, not these heavy-breasted women
preening their slow pasaggios past
our table at the Gran Caffe.

Rome is about decrepitude and
ancients – all that grey
fractured marble, those pocked
ranks of sculpted heads, might
prove across accumulating years
old isn’t all that bad.
But now this affront of cleavage
snuggling tight in t-shirts,
creeping from bright ruffled silks.

Here where at 22 I’d hugged
a stranger’s waist to ride his
Vespa past a dusk-lit Coliseum
I needed to believe the testimony
of what rose still in the Forum,
lined villas’ hallowing halls.

Which fragments to shore up against
our ruin? I stared expectantly
at stone, you at the living flesh.

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