San Gimignano

By | 31 May 2003

I saw a girl drinking absinthe—
I saw her rural eyes and Florentine hands—
an ivy-coated wall behind, cool as a lover.

I drank from a fountain in the plaza
its marble head sad as a ruined epigram
the water tasting of moss and clay.

Twice I looked into the distance
beyond the city walls, finding olive groves
and fields of sunflowers.

I saw a valley dry as lavender—unenvied, remote
as though left by mauve for silver’s pleasure.
I entered a museum, silky

with cardinal lives, and I saw
manuscripts with Latin words laid down
like stones crumbling where they fell.

And even though the space on the postcard
where I sat in frescoed shadow
beneath gargoyles

is now blank, a wash of emptier light,
I remember a storm falling into the valley,
thunder radiant with the war-cry of elephants.

I remember the girl drinking absinthe—
how she gathered up her small handbag
and Vespa keys.

I believe I counted my ribs
for a missing bone and found
her rural eyes and Florentine hands—

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