Victoria, British Columbia

Castel Gandolfo

September 19, 2004

Climbing the cobbled hill above Lake Albano

whose sapphire surface reflects the morning sun

we halt for second wind, spy a village

cat tonguing its tabby coat


On the grass below, a policeman

leans against a cruiser, Uzzi

nestled in the crook of his arm

At the entrance to Piazza della Liberta

we pass a pair of constables

who share not a smile

not a gleam of the eye


Swiss guardsmen stand

on either side of a towering church doorway

resplendent in stripes

of yellow, red and Medici blue, armed

with centuries of patience, buttressed

by medieval halberds


Jet-lagged tourists cram

dark souvenir shops, or languidly

circle the ancient square


A gowned choir gathers

to loft heavenly strains

into the warm autumn air


Black-robed priests

and puffed-up dignitaries

are engulfed by an exuberant throng

brandishing banners

in long, looping figures-of-eight


The Pope is coming!


frail and heroic

on the edge

of eternity


At the apex

of anticipation

we depart


This tour

leaves no time

for history.


Rosalee van Stelten is a Victoria free-lance writer and poet whose second book, Echoes, is due for release by Frontenac House in autumn 2008.


2 responses to “Victoria, British Columbia

  1. Rosalee van Stelten – you write such visual words! As a painter, I could literally paint what you wrote. So beautiful. Creative way to end the poem.

  2. Truus de Bruijn

    What a beautiful poem! I especially like the way you describe the different colours in this poem.
    I also like the composition of the words.

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