Blurring Time and the Roman Baths

An army of Roman Generals size me up from across the terrace. Their stern expressions and concrete uniforms blur slightly in the soft green waters of the streaming pool below.

Through the twirling ribbons of mist, I trace out the jade green and stone of the Great Pool. Black lanterns holding wild orange flames hang above the water. Below, there is a quiet swoosh and the odd gurgle.

A sign asks visitors not to touch the water – a little Vietnamese girl, with mischief in her eyes, dips her fingers into the pool. Her parents giggle and take photos. In a few years the rules will change; she’ll smart from the sharp smack on her fingers and the stern words to behave.

A young man dressed in a cream coloured toga, red cape and brown sandals walks past me. I remember chunks from my history texts – the politics of the time, the wars waged, the conquests, the brutal games, the betrayals, all masked behind good intentions and works of beauty.

He smiles. I smile back, unsure about which of us is stuck in the wrong time.