Now, if you can’t silence your neighbors—
the bang below, the screams above, the tongue
full of obscenities—remember: your
ears are sewers that empty into Lethe.
Why not go out for a walk? Ignore the clouds
of midges murmuring about the dead
dragonfly with iridescent wings
the rain beat down and washed to the grate.
Grieve for him privately, and sincerely,
in your own way. Celebrate his life
somehow: a hymn you hum when you’re alone;
not some expensive statue, like those bronze
divinities from Greece, standing around—
naked, shivering—frightened to find
themselves the stars of a Roman spectacle.
We do not need to visit the Arena—
avert our eyes or revel in the slaughter.
Find comfort in the uncomfortable fact
you can’t change History. Remember: all
those roads that lead to Rome also lead
away. If each direction’s lined with graves,
walk on. Follow the road to Avernus—
the undiscovered country. It is still
in relatively good repair. Pack lunch.
Have a picnic in the shade. There,
you may meet an old friend, like I did:
a tipsy gentleman dressed in a toga,
taking a turn around his property,
surprised to see he has a visitor.
Horace is always glad to entertain.