The Fountains at Villa D'Este, Tivoli

As if he owned the ocean.
Here, one man’s dream explodes in
water, carved in splashing splendour
by lion teeth, angel mouth, breasts
of virgins that do not rest. Day
and night the liquid sizzles, channeling
the dream from terrace to terrace,
from stone to stone, till it gathers to a pool
that caresses the fish. My brain swims
with the fish as they trace their antique
silence to a thousand spouts
and fountains, then back to the pool again….
One dies again, also, bursting through
the skin, and flings his wingless wars
to the sun, broken and raining sadness
on the soul; but just for a moment,
like spumes in air, or the swing of swans
to shore, no longer, no better. Bodies
bloom and reel in space, juggled and spun by
light, by water, to flash a brilliance,
no longer, no better. Was this what he
thought, he who planned the garden of his mind,
to freeze that brilliance? Did he, in despair,
command the water to move his mind
to each crevice, each pool, each silent
sibilance, each flowing,
each song of many endings, each murmur,
while he slept, as if he owned the ocean?

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