What about architecture? If you could be a building, what would you be?
The Pantheon. Why not? Paul Muldoon once made me a “monumental / Emmenthal”
when he assigned the poets their identities as cheeses.
—Paris Review, Fall, 1997
It‘s good, what they’ve done here since the Goths left town:
the black-flecked gialla antiquo marble
as you turn full circle, its effect soothing, damping down
the thousand conversations that surround you;
the Virgin and Child in beaten silver just breaking the horizon
of the choir stall; the organ more fit for a small chapel,
even the triumphal Victor Emmanuel tomb—intimate touches,
lowering close to the people milling around.
A tour guide half-whispers by the grave of Raphael. No mystery
why Goethe, who’d abandoned Weimer,
returned here often, arms laden with flowers. From atop the crypt
two metal doves depend,
suspended in flight, one hovering inverted beneath the other
while headed in the opposite direction.
The sculptor’s posed them ying/yang, beaks touching, as if to say
in our lesser heaven, Imagination
fired by animal desire can close the famous Sistine Chapel gap
dividing God from Adam.
The morning thickens, the crowds pack in, clustering before
this Annunciation, that lustrous plaque,
though in the end, each in the crush of visitors feels the pull
of the vertical and looks up
gasping at the concrete cyclotron of space that Hadrian designed,
at its apex the oculus
through which sacrificial smoke once poured, where some will catch
a flash of wings—godling sprung
from godhead, or a pigeon, angling for its crust of bread.
–in memoriam, SH
Steve Myers has published a full-length collection, Memory’s Dog, and two chapbooks. A Pushcart Prize winner, he has recently published in Callaloo, Here, Juxtaprose, Kestrel, Penn Review, The Southern Review, Stone Canoe, and Tar River Poetry. He heads the poetry track for the MFA in Creative Writing at DeSales University.