POSTCARD FROM THE EXPEDITION
Eight lampposts, listing this way and that, lead me up
the Campidoglio’s one-hundred-twenty-four steps like a line
of tipsy priests on their way to confession.
The morning ignores the lamps’ unnecessary
light, its attention filled with trees
under which the city imperceptibly breathes.
6AM appears to me as the first hour of an expedition
that might take years.
Back home, my father had promised my mother
Verona and Rome. That was before
we understood the quick work of cancer.
How fast landscapes change—
the branches, bones, a pilgrim’s grandiose
ambitions. In a photo I take, a woman strides away from me
into an empty piazza wide enough, deep enough
for a flotilla of seventeen ships
under full sail. The woman holds an open umbrella
though it has long since stopped raining.
The sun is cracking the clouds of Rome—a city
I’m still trying to find. Look how the wet cobblestones
under her feet shine like eyes.
Sarah Wetzel is the author of River Electric with Light, which won the AROHO Poetry Publication Prize and was published by Red Hen Press in 2015, and Bathsheba Transatlantic, which won the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and was published in 2010. Wetzel currently teaches creative writing at The American University of Rome, Italy.