I was here before the blackamoors
were photographed & cataloged,
when they first ran up to me
& then receded into their poses,
descendants of archival Hamites
destined to serve their brothers
& sisters in a red baroque room,
each silent as an iron doorstop.
Some peered out of perches
askance, shining lanterns & sconces,
ready to please, or eager to cast
a guiding light among centuries
of shadows, a patina of mystery
lost in Tuscan dusk. At least
their attire isn’t stitched rags.
If ebony & alabaster could talk,
Lord, the volumes of gossip
among gold-leafed tributes
we would hear as vinegar turns
back to wine, driftwood to bread.
They’ve been perfectly arranged,
& almost reveal whose sweat
glosses their smooth skin
in these rooms of rehearsal.
I saw one shift slightly & blink,
or maybe it was a dark hum
coming from the olive grove,
a feeling brought across the sea.
They are not claw-footed props
& furniture for drunken nights
posed to grab a hat or fur coat,
dressed in skeins of filigree
& false gems, offering a bowl
of black grapes to each envoy
or a guest holding a dagger
behind his upright back.