LA DOLCE VITA
The first time, my folks must have borne me
to Fellini’s film to save bucks on a sitter. I still
hear my mother’s gasp when that plaster Christ
dangled, craned over Rome, and my father’s sigh
over Anita Ekberg’s well-aimed torpedo breasts.
The second time, at seventeen, I sighed myself
over pretty people in finned American convertibles
and tinny Roman Fiats–the paparazzi buzz and flash,
Mastroianni’s calibrated cool, cigarettes and espresso
steaming up Via Veneto. The vaunted rustic “miracle”
only mocked all the Church hoped to teach before
the sundrenched denouement on the beach.
Third time, charmless–in my thirties, good guys
seemed hyenas at best and the rest, sharks.
Even Miss Ekberg’s breasts were props
in a nonstop carnival of venal lusts.
The faithful seemed less funny and more desperate
at the miracle. At the beach, it was overcast–
nobody who’d fought for power was having any fun;
maybe it was the plaster Lenins cracking in flight
over grimmer capitals, further east, or maybe
it was just that I’d smooched lips I’d lose
across the rigid seats of my Fiat convertible
before dumping the gutless, sputtering wreck.
Fourth time, forties, I aimed my sighs behind
the camera, sure Fellini was worn-out from shouting
at extras lost in fields in search of epiphany,
from scouting locations in Via Veneto’s fumes,
and anxious to join Guilietta at the country house,
where she would reassure him he was no plaster idol,
no Cinecittà effete, and offer bread and wine
to remind him why life was sweet.