—the sea in the middle of the world
amphorae alphabets alabasters
bronze amorini and athletes
all these come to shore come to rest alla riva marina
riding small waves
far out the fisherman lets down his lines
feels the weight of a vase
depicting a blue cat with a grave human face
of great beauty, sacred to Isis
stella maris protectress of crops and of vessels puissant goddess
return me to the sight of my own people
what do the shards say?
Lost encipherings, inventories, checklists, prayers
Domitilla likes it or Faustus cretinam est
We keep sifting through flea markets:
Arezzo, Gubbio, Roma's Porta Portese,
silted-up Rimini of the lovely linens and Nigerian whores
always just missing
Have no regrets.
Had you bought it
it would have left you like quicksilver.
At least you have glimpsed us
in a broken tile
or shimmering votive;
in our eyes that insist
(dark through bright woodland
or over proffered espresso):
We are here,
we are the known world's limit
Do not think you can reach us.