Roman Park, Noon

A weekly poem, read by the author.
April 15 1999 3:30 AM

Roman Park, Noon

To hear Karl Kirchwey read "Roman Park, Noon," click here.

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The water, gray-green like your eyes,
blabs on in the absolute stillness.

The needle and thread of an old woman
move through a flash of white cotton

as she mutters, "Men like to kill."
A sphinx nearby rolls a man's skull

under its paw, prismed with
clear spray, and a girl's mouth

forms a grainy "O" of surprise
at the satyr lurking behind some acanthus.

Straight-backed girls play in the shade,
their blouses immaculate.

Two police officers water their horses
at the fountain's scalloped terraces.

A young man with a book
writes down the old woman's remark,

and the idled carousel's proprietor
reads a newspaper.

A babysitter is asleep,
angled in a corner of the sharp

iron bench. The baby is quiet,
asleep in the direct sunlight.

How shall we find our way in-
to this moment which stands between

us and a remembered future?
It is speaking, the water,

telling over each detail
with a retreating chuckle of gravel.

Loneliness is not appeased,
but the water is speaking, at least.

We will follow the glance of the water.

Karl Kirchwey is the author of six books of poems, most recently Mount Lebanon, and of a translation of Paul Verlaine's first book of poems, as Poems Under Saturn. Professor of the Arts and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Bryn Mawr College, he is serving as Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome from 2010-13.

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