Yes, Mama, I pawed and frowzled her;
that’s no reason, twelve years later,
to stalk me down under the pillars of our bank,
set her groin a la frotteuse against
my thigh and promise me whatever; only,
please, would I kindly take her for
a Roman holiday?
Mama, I know she’s penurious riffraff. She’s also
busty, palpable, manipulative, and wriggly; and I,
escaping late the bank’s besotting hum,
blinded by fatigue and father’s gift of avidity
for Latins, Sabines, Etruscans, heros, myths
and ancient monuments, not to mention
my genetic stupidity and mostly human flesh,
said, “Sure, Belinda, just for you,
we’ll go to Rome.”
Seems she’d made her list, culled from magazines:
catch the Coliseum, flaunt sopping
Ekberg mammas romping in the Trevi, climb
the Spanish Steps clutching roses, gobble
pizza on Via Veneto — Mama! I know
I should’ve known — kiss St. Peter’s toe
and clamber up his cupola lithping awethum.
Done by dinner, day one (I’d reserved seven),
she leered sonsily over her snifter, awaiting
her finale on the silken sheets
of Hotel St.Regis, Rome.
Our all’aperto table took in San Angelo,
Il Vaticano, and a ruddy Roman sunset
tinting Tiber’s muddy slither to the sea.
I was caught, Mama, caught on the most fabled
spot on earth, in the clutches of an estrous ragtag.
Loathing her, I pondered the demise of meritous
women only a stone’s throw, or quick
carriage ride, away: Rhea Silvia,
wayward vestal mother of the city, drowned;
Sabine women abducted, raped by Romans;
Lucrece violated, disgraced, driven to suicide;
Tarpeia treacherously crushed by Sabine shields.
With sudden panic, I spotted a flashing Thomas Cook,
found a flight that night, and put her pouting
into a taxi. Relieved, I called the bank
and Maddalena Totti came straight to me.
No, Mama, we shouldn’t bed or wed
the help; but I proposed, on the spot,
and, on the spot, she accepted me
in gentle Roman twilight.
Belinda missed her plane?
Not seen since?
Yes, Mama, but, the tassista affirmed
(luckily I took his name), he’d dropped her timely
at da Vinci.
Maddy’s blond as Belinda?
Roma misteriosa, Mama.
Noli me interrogare.
Am I my floozy’s keeper?
Oh, harsh, Mama, and very thin ice.
Listen, you know we love you dearly; please,
won’t you let me take you on
a Roman holiday?
Miamisburg, Ohio, 2011