Poems in Progress: #15–April 15, 2016

Number 15

Roma: Foro Romano

Someone else bought this,
maybe from a little shop,
with jingling lire,
and brought it home,
to the Midwest,
long ago.

You can’t find these postcards
anymore: photographs printed
after hand-painting, mass-produced,
yet so delicately pre-digital.

A jumbled scene, this.
Splintered bones of ancient buildings,
draped by vines, ringed
by younger marble, stucco, brick—
honey-combed with sunlight,
standing only a thousand years so far—
where the business of life
flows on.

Clouds float.
Campaniles point heavenward.
A silent bell is set against the blue sky.

In the undone heart
of this storied city,
cypress and drifts
of red bougainvillea.
Long, silvered rectangles
of silvered water, reflecting.

And a circle
of tiny men in black trousers,
hands in their pockets, agreeing,
deciding something
there, where broken
statues gleam white
as dangerous water
or all those broken promises
littering the river of time.

Leslie Schultz

Some years ago, when Julia and I began studying history and geography in earnest, our dear friends and neighbors gave us a cache of old postcards. They were well-traveled, and so were their own parents, and so Julia and I spent hours sorting, dreaming, discussing, and wondering sparked by these tiny windows on the wider world.

Today, when elections and taxes and the warring needs between gardens and buildings are much on my mind, I was drawn to an image of a city I have never visited, Rome, that was printed before I was born. After years of studying history and literature in the United States with Julia (and she just reminded me last night of how we read Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, here on our living room couch) I am keenly aware of how the ideals and flaws of a Republic were first grappled with in Rome, and how they inspired the thoughts–progressive and sometimes repressive–of Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, and so many others. The bones of all that talk and theory affect how I live my life today, and that amazes me. I will never understand it fully, but I want to know more.

To that end, as my resident classics scholar moves on to other areas of inquiry, Tim and I are investing in — yes! — new DVDs from the Teaching Company. We’ll be able to supplement our desultory and highly satisfying ongoing study of Latin and Greek through books with hearing these ancient tongues read aloud. They should arrive today. College tuition is superseding our (already meager) travel budget for the foreseeable future, but we’re embarking on what I am sure is a lifelong learning adventure.  “Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant…”!

Until tomorrow!


One thought on “Poems in Progress: #15–April 15, 2016

  1. no wonder Julia has always been so curious and had a passion for learning…her parents are also curious and have an ongoing passion for learning!!! Way to go.

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