After the heat of the day, the afternoon brings thunder.
After the glare of the sunshine , dark clouds gather.
Across the bay of the sirens Vesuvius looms
But the flashing fire and the crashing booms
Come out of the air not the earth through the mountain:
Today there is no flow of lava, no burning fountain
Of molten rock to bury the ancient towns below in ash
But a relentless fall of rain engulfs the ruins no less
For half an hour or so then passes as soon as it came
As the clouds disperse and the sun fills the sky again
With fiery light. I look across at the volcano where standing
Two days ago on the edge of the crater I watched steam rising
Through a fissure from the heat of the boiling brew below
So I knew that someday once again it would break and blow
Fire and thunder into the sky and transform the land as it did
When the Romans of Pompeii and Herculaneum, though they hid
In cellars and other shelters, could not escape its coming, its storm
Bringing them immortality, their towns dug from the ashes and reborn:
The empty shells of their houses displayed as snapshots of the past,
The empty shrines of their gods a testament to what was lost.