In this huge copy of Guido Reni’s
Slaughter of the Innocents, men of power
turn their backs on death and tourists;
soldiers avert their eyes as throats are slit
in much the same way goats have theirs, or
veal calves, when they’re yanked from teats
and left to drain so that the meat is tender.
I’m in Rome, it’s a hot July day in 2004,
in my left hand is a Vatican Museum ticket.
I’ve been waiting in line for hours for one door
to open—into the Sistine Chapel. The floor
of the gallery is Travertine marble, I fake it
to a pretty Aussie girl beside me. I ignore
thinking about Iraq when I stare at the tapestry.