By | 16 August 2019

(after Shirley Hazzard)

In the vicoli
the great heft
of Neapolitan washing
flaps above me,
driven by winds
that might have ancient names
or simply be cattivi,
sucked out and back
as if the streets themselves
are breathing.
Somewhere in the
closed chapel of Sansevero
lies the veiled Christ
in his wrappings
miraculously light
as this bleached and hoisted lot,
the afterbirth of his crown of thorns
discarded by his side.
A short walk on
and the markets are awash
with cloth
from god knows where.
Later in a darkened shop
—the Lavanderia
a patient expat helps me explain
exactly what I need in a bottle
Aspete, signora, this one, right?
Aspete enunciated in the local
becomes asssh—pet,
a meaning so close, too close
for what it is
that really hangs above this town.
On purchase, I make a poor answer.
What did I wait for here
but the fine white
of not knowing
falling all over me.

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