Roman Park, Noon

To hear Karl Kirchwey read “Roman Park, Noon,” click here.

The water, gray-green like your eyes,
blabs on in the absolute stillness.

The needle and thread of an old woman
move through a flash of white cotton

as she mutters, “Men like to kill.”
A sphinx nearby rolls a man’s skull

under its paw, prismed with
clear spray, and a girl’s mouth

forms a grainy “O” of surprise
at the satyr lurking behind some acanthus.

Straight-backed girls play in the shade,
their blouses immaculate.

Two police officers water their horses
at the fountain’s scalloped terraces.

A young man with a book
writes down the old woman’s remark,

and the idled carousel’s proprietor
reads a newspaper.

A babysitter is asleep,
angled in a corner of the sharp

iron bench. The baby is quiet,
asleep in the direct sunlight.

How shall we find our way in-
to this moment which stands between

us and a remembered future?
It is speaking, the water,

telling over each detail
with a retreating chuckle of gravel.

Loneliness is not appeased,
but the water is speaking, at least.

We will follow the glance of the water.