Amongst the Cares
It was spring in the Vatican, and uneasy
were the men who waited in the dim
and marbled room for the voice of the castrato.
The phonograph looked like an instrument
of confession, a torturer’s tool, or a crippled demon,
the stylus a hissing tongue in the turning canister,
recording everything. Later, I played the Ave
for an unlaced woman who lay beneath me. That room
and we in it, were real, in a time before anything
was permanent. Afterwards she scoured her thighs
with handfuls of dried grass, discarding them clutch by clutch
at the roadside. To think of her or what became of her
is useless. I took the song. It is permanent,
witnessed to be unwound from the coiled grooves.
Jonathan Rice’s poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, New Delta Review, and Sycamore Review, among other journals, and are forthcoming in Faultline, Georgetown Review, and Notre Dame Review. His work has been selected for the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, the Milton-Kessler Memorial Prize from Harpur Palate, the Yellowwood Poetry Prize from Yalobusha Review, and the AWP Intro to Journals Project. He received an MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he teaches writing. (9/2008)