Ruins

by Thomas McCarthy

Fallen martyrs of Antioch, time’s unrecoverable flora
It’s not me, it’s the garden itself that becomes nostalgic
At this time of year. There’s a chill in the steel engraving
Of September and that arch opportunist, Piranesi,
Moves from the fallen triumph of spent roses,
Withered fruit canes, berries that have given up on God,
To set his easel where the view might be sold, yet again,
In a grey tourism of compost. Spring is now as distant
As the star anemone, or potentilla cinquefolia;
Or the ovate, aromatic white flower of strawberry
That seemed as fresh as a young Centurion in the heat
Of last May. As for the primitive rose so loved by Pliny
And its two hundred varieties that filled the Coliseum,
There’s nought but an odorous aftertaste. There is
Nothing to be done as the page turns, the two of us forking
Old potato stalks, the year shriven before pagan idols.