Roman Playgrounds

Only one swing stands in Servian Rome
          a gate and painted fence guard
where it waits in the fossa
– grass-choked –
of an ancient bathhouse exedra

At the peak of each swing
          a crown nods
up and down on the Colossal skull
severed by a sidewalk from the Foro Romano

A tree-lined street stops at Aventine’s top
          in a round park with this stray dog
so keen to chase cones
his grinning lips drip red

In our hunt for that swing
     we find a door locked tight of iron and oak
with notes from a fete to hint us in
          so we peek
through the keyhole to see what awaits

Past an old stone arch wobble balls of light
to mar the sunset skyline of St. Paul’s
          looming like summer
     over other dusky duomo

We crave to join the masquerade
that sang us to this place
          but only empty masks remain
     staring from tabletops
while withered ribbons swing in the wind

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