These lines were etched into the walls of the House of Poppaeus Sabinus.
These words were cosseted by Vesuvian ash while the city of Pompeii slept.
Do you listen? Can you hear their breaths:
Awkward, staggered breaths?
Almost a language—Non-words uttered by
those who ignored their own deaths.
If you felt the fires of love, mule driver.
Listen to the etched words. Press yourself into walls.
Christen them with your ears, your eyes, your pulse.
Here division between man and stone eroded under
aa and ahs as ash smothered the village.
Mule driver, if you felt the fires of love,
would you make more haste to see Venus?
Ash plastered her mouth, pent her voice,
but time has not smothered her love.
Composed some distance from her destination
She pressed her eager urges into the doorway:
I love a charming boy, I ask you
Goad the mules, lets go.
Take me to Pompeii—
Transposed never to decompose,
where love is sweet.
Thanks to that smoke pine tree
Recalled by young Pliny.