Slowly the roses bleed into the water
a wound, a garlanded mouth, in every stem;
a languid sweetness turning rich and bitter
- the last of Rome.

Fragile and wistful as the weather, caught
naked and cold in flowers, with the grace
of virgin dancers, is the apricot
in our blue glass.

Barbarian slaves: the grounds where roses grow
are wild and thorny in their flaunting weeds;
where, stripped for wind, the flowering trees bow to
their green brides.

Oh trees in your arms lulling the wind;
roses written by the sun, your open lips:
to what imperial splendour are you bound,
and by what hopes?

Crushed in the beauty and the liquid noose,
you dance the apricot, draw the slow breath
of roses dying like Petronius
a seemly death.