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RETURN TO ROME
by Stanley Moss

Today in Rome, heading down
Michelangelo’s Spanish Steps,
under an unchanging moon,
I held on to the balustrade,
grateful for his giving me a hand.
All for love, I stumbled over the past
as if it were my own feet. Here, in my twenties,
I was lost in love and poetry. Along the Tiber,
I made up Cubist Shakespearean games.
(In writing, even in those days,
I cannot say it was popular to have “subjects”
any more than painters used sitters. But I did.)
I played with an ignorant mirror for an audience:
my self, embroiled with personae
from Antony and Cleopatra. Delusions of grandeur!
They were for a time my foul-weather friends—
as once I played with soldiers
on the mountainous countryside of a purple blanket.

IMAGE: The Spanish Steps, Rome (1895 photo). Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stanley Moss, born in 1925, was educated at Trinity College (Connecticut) and Yale University. He makes his living as a private art dealer, specializing in Spanish and Italian Old Masters. He is the critically acclaimed author of The Skull of Adam (1979), The Intelligence of Clouds (1989), Asleep in the Garden (1997), A History of Color (2003), New and Selected Poems (2006), Rejoicing (2009), and God Breaketh Not All Men’s Hearts Alike (2011). In 1977 Moss founded Sheep Meadow Press, a nonprofit press devoted to poetry, with a particular focus on international poets in translation. He lives in New York.