Michelangelo's Pietà, St Peter's Basilica (Creative Commons)
When I was a teen,
my uncle led me up stone steps of a forbidden tower
to a parapet, with a panoramic view of St. Peter’s Square.
We were trespassing, and I was afraid of heights.
I told him I preferred to see the world with my feet on the ground:
Looking up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling,
Seeing my grandmother feed pigeons in the piazza,
Seeing the cool smooth marble of the Pieta inches from my eyes.
When I was a boy, I had seen Mary’s young face from afar,
behind bullet-proof, ceiling-to-floor plexiglass
on a dimly-lit moving sidewalk,
jostled by tourists at the World’s Fair.
As a teen, free from my Roman chaperones,
I was Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
I was the only person in the world viewing, in a stolen moment,
what Michelangelo had carved from a single stone.
In such dizzying proximity to perfection,
I understood the desire to destroy it.
And yet I have lived my life as an innocent man,
never seeking to avenge my younger self.
I am Zacchaeus, and this page is where I hide.
This piece of paper.