THE LAST ROMAN IN BRITAIN TAKES HIS BATH



The last Roman in Britain is taking a bath
in Calleva Atrebatorum
while there is still wood to keep the balineum’s
fires stoked.
                        Night is coming on, but the water
reflects no stars, and even near boiling
the unnamed Latin feels the cold.
Caesar is preoccupied with Visigoths
and has told the cities in Britain to see
to their own defences.
Caesar is holed up like a rat in Ravenna,
surrounded by Visigoths and night is falling.
Caesar doesn’t give a damn
about Britain or perfumed oils.

The last Roman in Britain is taking a bath.
Maximus has left the island
taking with him troops from the wall that Hadrian built.
The Saxons, Picts, and the Scoti
gather in like nightfall and the last Roman
in Britain needs no oracle to see the dice
has been cast.
Jupiter, Sol Invictus, Isis and Mithras
know him, but night is falling across the Empire.
Fifteen hundred years later
the descendent of colonists in New Zealand
will imagine him, but that is of little use

as he sinks furtively into the warm water at twilight.

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