What Leaves

Evening congeals in the Forum but the story ambles
on behind columns, beyond the broken pedestal,
only a different story from the one we knew:

those figures are smaller, strolling over eons of mud,
than they suppose; an axe-blade of light
lops your shoulder from your spine, your head is absorbed

into the idea of an arch that has lost its bearings.
No one triumphs. No one’s face is painted red.
If we are prisoners, it’s in a private war

not chronicled in shadows clothing. The art
is all in not being becalmed, in a meal, in purchase,
in love: you are hunting a displaced person

who wandered off toward the vanishing point
but cracked and fell into middle distance;
and if I follow, I’ll be prying up shards

from this thickening pâté of dimness as it collects.
You leave a trail, but we are taken to pieces
into a story of processions, oratory, betrayal,

the severed head and hands impaled on the podium.
It’s all in the giving up, as when, back on our hill,
the fountain pulses against a pelting rain

and rain strikes back into the fountain pool
and the fountain acknowledges the epic of water
and keeps spurting, from its aorta, its own small line.