Accretion is the obvious word that comes to mind,
its Latin roots reaching deep along the Tiber’s banks
as it flows past the hill of amphorae
flung away by oil merchants unloading their ships,
so long ago.
Shattered pieces overlapped layer upon layer,
interstices filled in by soil and seeds and weeds and trees
Til the new thing appeared-
Waste not, want not-
until the garbage dump became a garden
another hill for Rome.
Gray-green water hemmed in to serve the urbs,
finally released outside the walls
sighing with relief, past the willows
and the tumble down banks,
past the shabby parts of the city where it somehow seems more itself,
and less a stage set for someone else’s story,
gleefully carrying bits of it away to Ostia and to the sea.
III. Palazzo Massimo
Ancient villas once graced the Tevere,
then buried and unearthed,
their frescoed walls restored to life
in the Palazzo Massimo,
where one can wander through some Senator’s bedroom
and lounge in Livia’s painted garden
watching the birds flitting among the fruit trees
on a buzzy-hot summer’s day
and recline in the triclinium, awaiting
a servant-borne feast and sweet music.
I cannot help but feel the presence of toga’d ghosts
who roam the halls when the gawkers are gone
dreaming of secret pleasures
and bemoaning the modern world.
Pia De Girolamo is a modernist painter who lives in the Greater Philadelphia area. Her most recent work up to the Covid 19 pandemic was based on the landscape both natural and urban in places as varied as Patagonia, Iceland, Rome, Italy and the Arctic.