One sanatorium in particular,
given back to time and riveted
to an island at the seaward head
of a canal in an ancient city,
became a Galapagos of spooks
where all manner and species
of good ghosts were left evolving—
coughing blood and lovers’ names
into collapsing hallways.
An apartment with frescoes on the walls
that lean toward the light, lean toward naughty Roman,
sigh darkly over their birth in the prim pre-Renaissance instead.
They whisper to each other of the hardships of being
mere copies of copies, restored and restored again,
each time by cruder hands.
The apartment, saddled with inaccurate
purple velvet furniture and skinny beds
packed in as if for orphans
is attached to some chi chi hotel with flags out front
that clank against their poles and wave
to the bronzed pickpocket boys in the street
whose clever-eyed discernment is spent mostly on
which girls’ asses are ripe for a pinch.
The pope who built the palace,
now parsed out for foreigners and fornicators,
glides from room to room, to hotel lobby,
to check-in check-out counter, and, disillusioned,
wonders if this torment is the tail end of his
thousand year purgation for loving the woman
who burnt his bread often and shrieked at lesser maids.