The Garbagemen of Rome

By | 1 February 2012

Such sprezzatura they have in their orange jumpsuits!
With their well-coiffed hair and agile movement

and gallant asides to the ladies, they might
as well be fencing on the battlements

of the Castel Sant’Angelo, or dancing a quadrille
on the marble floor of a palazzo, as going round

collecting trash. This Wednesday morning,
the driver of a streetsweeper noses down

the cobblestoned street, singing an off-key aria
out the open window. His partner —cornetto

in one hand, a twig broom in the other — jabs
distractedly at trash beneath the tables and chairs

of the sidewalk cafés. They miss a lot,
but together they manage to nudge most

of the wilted lettuce and trampled fliers
and cigarette butts out of the way. Che importa?

What they don’t pick up today will be here waiting
for next week’s bravura performance. Encore! Encore!

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