Roman April

Meredith Wise

After Johann Moser’s “Winter in Panchavati”

Daybreak: the aqueduct pours light, o Roma
   Bare-headed dawn in the metro waits, lonely and shy.
Daybreak: the streets are empty for archangelic hours,
   And the dark domes rise in rank on the tide of wonder.
Daybreak: everlasting fountains flash like bells
   When we take our morning stations, armed with our youth.
And we remembered you, Zion, quiet city of sunrise,
   Quiet city of perfect waters and white courtyards;
We longed to wake in the sweetness of your gaze.

Afternoon: the slow discordant chime, o Roma,
   And the long walk home, under a silver sky.
Afternoon: the Appian Way walled with antique flowers,
   And the heavy heat come to a head of rose-red thunder.
Afternoon: our fear of judgment wells
   When we feel the April tempest's gleaming tooth.
And we remembered you, Zion, fearful city of lightnings,
   Fearful city of victorious beauty and everything in an instant;
We longed to walk in the triumph of your praise.

Midnight: the Paschal fire shines, o Roma,
   The shades of night are holy where they lie.
Midnight: now awake in every tower
   The bells are dancing over Egypt's plunder.
Midnight: water falls from brazen shells
   When we sing the new-born lambs, the ancient truth.
And we remembered you, Zion, espoused city of glory,
   Espoused city of singing gates and gardens of dancers;
We longed to live in the wedlock of your ways.

Meredith Wise is a graduate student in classics at the University of Kentucky and an alumna of Christendom College. She blogs about poetry at “For Keats’ Sake!” (