When I arrived, I thought I knew how to live.
I saw my future as clearly as new frescoes
On stone. What I didn’t have, I made do without—

Or invented: the trompe l’oeil mosaic in the summer
Triclinium for a real garden. The songs of birds
From the nymphaeum’s painted trees. Long expert
At knowing the world through the words of others,
I thought there would be time to live. Before her
Diagnosis, my feeling of fortune was as ostentatious
As patrician villas, tempting disaster. And like the other
Citizens of Vesuvian towns, I feared disaster would find us
But could not bring myself to pack and leave.
Solace comes seldom—it’s as rare as a preserved section
Of fresco, framed in rough wood by the archaeologists
To safeguard it still. That’s how my insides look now—
A ruined expanse of smooth stone, graffitied with residue
Of memory, caught under glass, visible if the light is right
And there’s no glare—fragmented, constant, red.