Yes he was waiting for us
pacing up and down the columned
arcade, his marble brow a-sweating
not because we were late—which we
were, thanks to the talkative spice
vendor on Campo de Fiori—but
for reasons he could or would not
divulge. His cold marble pate shimmered,
steamed by a pre-Ides sea breeze.
My tenth-grade history teacher,
whose soul by now must surely be at rest,
ardently loved the Greeks, for
she berated me with no mercy
whenever I mispronounced
his name. SOC-rates, I said.
So-CRATES. he corrected. So.
Crates. She loved Aris-ty-TOLE, too,
got on me for errors of tongue,
forgetting the minds, the reasons
they wagered, questioned, argued.
This was my introduction to the uncanny.
To this day I cannot look at a stack of packing boxes
without thinking of sweaty brows.
By the time we sat down for lunch
that day in March 2006,
the morning steam had cleared.
Brows were cool and dry.
We had a great view of rising birds
over a piazza named for something
built by Marcus Aurelius.
So-Crates, he went for the pizza,
its circle imperfect, human.