Sunbathing Pope/Noticeboard


August is a microwave
Only holy fools
And tourists brave the heat

He boards a bus on Termini
Sabbatical professors
Burdened by their cameras
Baseball caps and bum-bags
Turning from their guidebooks
Offer him a seat

Whose parish is the world
The same we glimpse
From public transport windows
Worried about bills
Even as we travel into work

And contemplate a city that emerges
Continuous as Venus from its sea

Today he comes to bless
The oiled and shining orchard of retired
Sunbathing Cinecitta stars
Toasting on their terraces

‘Here is a trellis Your Holiness
Be sure to sit in the shade’   –
But peeling off the centuries’
Impeding heavy vestments
Confining protocols and paraphernalia
It is time for a new dispensation   –

So send out for the pizza
He anoints both legs and arms
In Cocoa Butter Factor 25
Before a passing cardinal
Instantly envelop him
In figured cloth of gold   –

“No – You may wear it monsignor   –
The carnival is over!”  





‘In summer months The Snob Club
Closes but The Snub Club
Extends the same facilities to Members

By reciprocal arrangement
Luncheon and High Tea are served
Mock-servile with an insolent civility’



Bernard Saint
Illustration: Claire Palmer



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