To Villa Pamphili

woman in red dress standing on gray road

Photo by Oliver Sjöström on

To Villa Pamphili


Start running

from the door

up the steps

urine smell

of cats

to the corner.


spills to gutters

and the sidewalks

stain with grease.

Run past the curb

to the other,

up the pavement

to the station

where the boxer

growing old,

and now retired

pumps his gas,

flatters men

he doesn’t like 

yet bows a formal


to a woman

running forward

wanting back

all the body

 she once had.


Rhythm though


she knows she

must stay with it,

jog to find

an equili-

brium and make it

past the stores

with their trinkets,

and the cars

buzz like gnats,

shrill her ears,

fill her lungs

with veils of fumes.


packed with bodies,

bunched up stems,


of stinking weeds.


And run

past the church

that is empty

always empty

save for hefty


rosaried women,

stub hair back,



slide in shoes

worn from shopping,

cooking, cleaning,

stooping, taking

care to serve.


to the villa

up ahead.



shot with holes

of cannonballs

from the time of Garibaldi.


That’s the outside.

And the ramp

will take her inside


through the portal.


to the open, to the garden

that has been here while she was running.

Feel the pulse receding as she leaves what’s

outside, slowing breathing, walking over bones sedate

in their rest, birds, squirrels, chipmunks.

Water flows over rocks, obedient to no

force but their own. She lies down with them.

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