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APOCALYPSE

Via Del Corso, Rome, March 2020.

The boutiques had been closed by decree, even

Calvin Klein Underwear and Brooks Brothers.

The only pedestrians were the Pope,

in his white robes, and his bodyguard,

in bulging suits – on a pilgrimage

to the ancient church of San Marcello

set back from the street. Beneath a crucifix,

used to assuage a 15th century plague,

Pope Francis prayed to God to stop the virus.

 

The street, in Roman times, was Via Lata –

Broad Way – and ran through the Field of Mars

towards the Adriatic. At Mardi Gras,

in the Renaissance, the Ghetto was emptied

and the Jews paraded along the street

so that the Christians could mock and scorn.

 

Italy’s churches had been closed by decree –

except in the north where some were being used

as temporary morgues, from which corpses

were taken, for cremation, day and night,

by slow convoys of army lorries.

 

Like riderless horses around a race track,

history repeats and repeats, and God,

who was thought to be dead, may merely be deaf.

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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