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!
The Garbagemen of Rome
1 February 2012