It calls you in,
bottle-glass green and cool in summer heat,
but the current’s too strong:
before you know, you’d be floating unhurriedly
into the Tiber, forty miles downstream.
Not such a bad way to drown, taking it easy,
having everything you’ve experienced
click through your head like a slow movie reel. With time
for sightseeing – think – those twenty-seven centuries
from the founding of the city,
the emperors and the excesses,
popes, palaces and pleasure-gardens,
amphitheatres and aqueducts,
temples and triumphs, legions, Lingua Latina…
so much more than one’s own meagre existence,
a hundred generations roughly speaking,
surely enough to fit a million lives.
It seems almost a pity
to miss that.
I think I’ll dip my toe in now.
This poem was Commended in The Poems Please Me Prize 2015.
Donald Adamson: poet and translator, dividing time between Tampere (Finland) and Dalbeattie (Scotland); first prize Herald Millennium Competition; prize-winner McCash Scots Poetry Competition, 2014. His translations of the Finnish poet Eeva Kilpi were published by Arc in 2014. His new collection, ‘Glamourie’, was recently published by Indigo Dreams.