Our Rome



Helen Mitsios (right, putting books back on the shelf they came from, as you always should) is an award-winning poet and writer and the Books Editor for WONDERLUST, and edits the TRAVEL POEM section, and NIGHTSTAND, our books recommendation column. 


Her most recent poetry collection is The Grand Tour. She is also a member of the New York Writers Workshop. 


“I wrote this poem because there was always something beguiling about the statues that hover on the roof perimeters of buildings in Rome, until one day I saw them in a different light,” she says, intriguingly… 








Our Rome




In the ancient city it is impossible 

to feel old. Gelato colored buildings and dusty 

paint on the walls around as we walk

snake-charmed sampietrino streets.

On the terrace of the Hassler Hotel bar 

the sun sets dark into glintings of possibility

alive in a prosecco glass. A surround

of stars appear each a tiny flashlight

of regret memorialized, not the wish or

navigator’s solace but marking instead:

if I had done this instead of that, 

if I had said this instead of that. 

One hundred forty saints and martyrs

stand in St. Peter’s Square, St. Thesia 

dismissed from martyrdom, still allowed. 

Lined up along the roof’s edge they

beckon to one another to ease the boredom

and see who will jump first. Or in a garland

together. They don’t bother smiling 

at tourists, their garments wild rococo ribbons

dreaming in the wind and limbs like ripe 

loaves of bread. Each morning we drink espresso 

and eat cornetti. A moment. A moment. 

A moment. The ellipsis on an empty page. 

So many statues standing on the roofs

of Rome – married to the winds, eternal figures

trapped in air, watching us below, watching the stars

above, with their travertine regrets no longer 

viable. But things could have been different.