Through the small window in the low-ceilinged room
a triangular swath of late-afternoon sun
pulses past rooftops and colonnades.
Rome stinks. The municipal sewer gasses
its sloughed city offal, its inhumed corpses and ordure,
stewing under the Mediterranean sky.
Another civic holiday, streets stunned into
immobility by citizens headed for circuses.
Agnes and her mother stay home. See—
a girl stands in the dim room facing her mother’s
slim back, focuses on the hanks of hair
she weaves, thoughts like rosaries, a private moment
uncommon in the metropolis, not even a servant
shares the space they make sacred between them.
They illuminate themselves as women do,
not as martyrs but as mother and daughter
tending to the tender and the necessary,
tying up loose strands, pinning it all in place.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 3.
See all items about Ann E. Michael