In Rome

by Sylvie Baumgartel

Sylvie Baumgartel

I pull down my black dress
& feed my child.
On steps, on pews,
Against a tree.

The church decorated in monk bones.
The chandelier of death.

The volcanoes made the soil rich.
The soil feeds & the soil buries.
He hand-feeds me
& puts me to sleep with his hand.
A slave crawls out of stone.
Stone splays languidly
On the female lap of stone.
Mourning, ravishing,
Basking, beheading.
The worship.

When does it become real
The things you say in bed?
It’s always true, he said.
The wisteria, the daffodils, the iris.
The squirrels with big ears.
Italy is a wet & veiny heart.

Caravaggio understood empathy.
Masaccio understood space & depth.
I understand the vanishing point.
Fra Angelico is true.
The man I love is a clenched
Fist inside my head.
Between my legs.
He likes to leave marks.
This is how I love you.
He likes it when I hurt.
& now I like it too.

The women on the hotline
Say over & over, love never hurts.
L’amore non fa fai male.
The billboards in Rome:
any face could be the face of violence.

Femicide is hot in Italy this spring.
The teenage girl burned alive by
Her boyfriend in the woods.
The girls cut, strangled, set on fire.
They are trying to teach Italian men
That women do not belong to them.
But do you often cut, stab & burn
The things that belong to you?

I look in the mirror
& see my hair made of snakes.
I look in the mirror
& see a girl of light.

Last updated November 08, 2022