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Ponte Sisto

Below the bridge,
an endless eddy
splashes back at the hem
of the spillway’s skirt,
churns a froth
of sticks and milk jugs
and Styrofoam and soccer balls
and tarp and plastic bags
over and under
in a current bewitched
to vortex, backflow.
The river cannot
choose what
it cannot let go,
is low today
and seems unable
to part with anything
at all. On the bridge,
a woman wears
a gray blanket
and yells in no one’s
particular direction.
The passersby part
to flow around her
body without touching
her body or the beggars or
their skinny dogs but stop
to turn and lean over
the guardrail and gawk
at the river’s newfound
collection and speculate—
The contents of a wind-struck
campsite or trash of a more
northern town dragged
downstream, gathered here
through confluent accidents
of weather, water.
Or some impractical
joker’s idea
of art—
the bouncing balls
of a lunatic lottery,
re-arrangement, de-
composition, ever un-
still life, inconsolable
and constant star-crossed
constellation, construct
of awkward orbits, collisions.
The passersby watch
for their favorite pieces
of flotsam to pop up
again and then do
what passersby do
(pass by).
The hungry dogs watch
their hungry masters
who watch the possibly
unwatched pockets
and the woman stops yelling
at no one to look up
at no one, reach
beneath her blanket
and touch herself.

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