Yes, I admit I seldom write,
Or even think of you,
But not, as you suppose,
Because there’s someone new,

But rather that I do not choose
To let you slip away,
Or let the passage of a year
Seem more than half a day.

Because I will not think of you,
You cannot leave my mind,
And nothing is a memory
Until it’s left behind.

There is a tale that Tullia,
Cicero’s daughter, lay
Entombed for fifteen-hundred years
Beside the Appian Way,

While armies swept across the land,
And seasons made their round,
Until by some odd circumstance
An opening was found.

And when the workmen moved the stone,
They saw inside the tomb,
A lamp still burning with a light
The years could not consume.

And by that light they glimpsed a form
Too beautiful for lust.
And then before a man could speak,
It crumbled into dust.

 

Jack Hart is a professor at the University of Rio Grande, in Ohio.

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9 Responses

  1. Florence

    A very lovely poem. Your Tullia becomes a metaphor for memory
    when she turns to dust and evokes that closing Aha! Well done with simplicity and intention. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Sally Cook

    Buried beneath the back and forth of daily life, Tullia lay. The symbolism of the story is a theme made for a poem. Even though current fashion is to be crass and shallow, we all keep such lamps within our hearts, and their light refuses to lie snuffed and trampled by current rules anti-mores..

    Reply
  3. Jack Hart

    Thank all of you for the kind comments. The subject of the poem
    is real, as is the story (at least more or less). I do have to be a little
    skeptical about the literal accuracy of the lamp still burning. But of course I wasn’t there, so who knows . . .
    Jack Hart

    Reply
  4. Wendy Bourke

    Lovely words, beautifully rendered – the rhyme and cadence … wonderfully done. Awesome writing! A pleasure to read!

    Reply

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