Protector of the Roman Bath

Dylan ZhangOctober 25, 2023Now and ThenPoetry

Artwork by Artur Zhuk, age 13

I find myself in a palace of broken stones and bricks, a green pool
Where once thousands flocked to pray and to bathe.
Yet all that remains is empty chambers and empty hallways,
The ruins of an empty bath decorated with statues.

As I stare up into the eyes of the one standing on the terrace,
Two meters tall on a pedestal overlooking the bath,
Now filled with leaves and sticks and plastic straws,
It appears as if time was mocking these great works
From the cracks in the stone and the stains on the wall.

Yet I am puzzled at his stature
As he bathes in the glory of the past,
Puzzled by the feeling as if this emperor,
Was still presenting his finest work,
With the straining pillars and the bleaching water,
The rusting torches and the rundown steps,
As if he was showing to the world
The warm mineral water would come forever,
The homesick soldiers and merchants would be forever cured
As if under the protection of him, standing tall and proud,
His bath would be forever unwithering and intact by all.

I’m told this statue in front of me
Of the mightiest Julius Caesar is a modern reproduction,
The original has been vandalized and crumbled down
Into pieces swallowed up by ripples of the green pool.

Dylan Zhang is an 11-year-old boy born in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Now he is a sixth grader at Hong Kong International School. He plays violin and likes to play Ping Pong and badminton.