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Not Pity, or Beneath the Surface


Philip Wexler

My focus shifted from the antiquities

the moment I noticed her - young, beautiful,

alone, in sandals, and hobbling on well-

worn crutches over hardpacked dirt

and gravel in the granary section

of an ancient villa south of Rome

as clouds and sun kept trading places.


Against the wind and along a honeycomb

pattern of ruined brick walls, she hobbled

insistently on the rough surface peppered

with stray blades of short waving grass.

I envisioned her as the wounded mortal form

of a Roman goddess, hair loosely curled, back-

swept.  Taking its turn center stage, the sun


floodlit the ground, casting a shadow

like a flowing cloak trailing her steps.

In the courtyard, unable to bend down

to scrutinize the mosaic of leaping dolphins

and sea foam, she slid her right foot out

of its sandal, caressed the marble and directing

closed eyes downward, opened herself up


to my stare.  Her foot rubbed the dolphins’

faces where the gray stone was worn smooth. 

Except for a swaying leg, the rest of her body

rested limply on the crutches.  She had taken

no notice of me until, opening her eyes, she couldn’t

help but glimpse my own shadow overlapping

her bare toes.  She raised her head.  Our eyes met.

Author, Poet, Writer, American, Indian Australian writers
Philip Wexler
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