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Rome.Santa Marie en Cosmedin.

Dec. 20, 2009
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Just inside the portico of this ancient
church built over Greek
ruins at the Forum’s edge, grins the pocked
gray Triton face, Boca de la Veritá, teeth intact,
through whose oracle mouth visitors insert
a virtue-testing sacrificial wrist. Unwilling to risk
his kiss of truth, its consequence or extra cost, I veer from the line, look
at relics lying under glass instead. There’s Saint

Valentine’s skull
, I gasp. The children
resist my attempt to assign
significance to this most unvalentine
like token of a long-moribund
holiday at our house, celebrated back then by cutting
out endless pink hearts, recycled as soon as they looked away: flesh, not bone.

Wendy Vardaman ( HYPERLINK "http://www.wendyvardaman.com/" www.wendyvardaman.com) lives in Madison, Wisconsin  and is the author of Obstructed View (Fireweed Press). She works for The Young Shakespeare Players, a children’s theater company, co-edits Verse Wisconsin ( HYPERLINK "http://www.versewisconsin.org/" www.versewisconsin.org) and does not own a car


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