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.