Monday, April 4, 2016

In Italy


Roads shouldered by enclosing walls with narrow
cobbled tracks for streets, those hill towns with their
stamp-sized squares and a sea pinned by the arrow
of a quivering horizon, with names that never wither
for centuries and shadows that are the dial of time. Light
older than wine and a cloud like a tablecloth
spread for lunch under the leaves. I have come this late
to Italy, but better now, perhaps, than in youth
that is never satisfied, whose joys are treacherous,
while my hair rhymes with those far crests, and the bells
of the hilltop towers number my errors,
because we are never where we are, but somewhere else,
even in Italy. This is the bearable truth
of old age; but count your benedictions—those fields
of sunflowers, the torn light on the hills, the haze
of the unheard Adriatic—while the day still hopes
for possibility, cloud shadows racing the slopes.

The blue windows, the lemon-colored counterpane,
the knowing that the sea is behind the avenue
with balconies and bicycles, that the gelid traffic
mixes its fumes with coffee—transient interiors,
transient bedsheets, and the transient view
of sea-salted hotels with spiky palms,
in spite of which summer is serious,
since there is inevitably a farewell to arms,
to the storm-haired beauty who will disappear.
The shifted absence of your axis, love
wobbles on your body's pivot, to the carriage's
shudder as it glides past the roofs and beaches
of the Ligurian coast. Things lose their balance
and totter from the small blows of memory.
You wait for revelations, for leaping dolphins,
for nightingales to loosen their knotted throats,
for the bell in the tower to absolve your sins
like the furled sails of the homecoming boats.

Found this poem from a discussion thread that a friend had about literary works set in Italy.