The Velia – a hill in Rome


Mine is one of the little hills.

I look down a gentle slope and the words

spill out of me and down the hill,

running to get to the Sacred Way

and parade themselves.

Lines slink around my feet

and trip me, vanishing when I look down.

I follow them, chasing, calling,

and pass the little house of Cinna.

My neighbour is a lawyer, precise,

And lives to make everything tidy.

The doorway is recently swept and washed,

Even sprinkled with dried rosemary.

Cinna has prepared his house as neatly,

As he parses his rolling clausulae.

The Temple of Tellus looms on the other side,

and I dash through its shadow. “You can’t avoid me,”

says the Temple, “for I am Mother Earth.”

I whisper a prayer in iambic tetrameters

And hurry on, trying to catch up with the paragraphs

now happily gambolling at the foot of the hill.

I round them up and speak firmly to them

And they fall into dutiful crocodile lines.

As I walk at their head, I sort them out,

Swapping places for some, making others

Stand up more smartly or walk a little

Slower. A turn around the Forum –

And my lines are neat and pinned,

Each wriggling word brushed.

My poem is done. I head for home.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best user experience. It does not use advertising or tracking cookies. Details are in our Privacy Statement