Stradun

a year is not enough / to forget you –
a single year without mourning / properly
acknowledged, in public;

when five hundred years / have changed little, and slowly,
although everything / that can be understood
is different now from then / in this perfect city state
of cream smooth limestone / enriched by Libertas;

the preserved renaissance city / of sinuous ambassadors
whose arsenal now serves / as one of many grand cafes,
the pearl lodged in a hinterland / of implacable hatreds
that flared / as trade and prosperity waned;

I will not forget you / but mourning is over,
in coffees and crowds / and the sweltering heat
of July / on Stradun.

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on the track from Sunj

the old woman waits / beside the olives’ gate / she’d just unlocked – /

wrought railings / in the hollow lane / facing the revetment – /

slowed by the age / that greyed her hair / and lined her face, /

that thinned her bones / thickened her waist / and claimed her breasts: /

one of the last 200 here / she speaks to welcome / two passing wraiths /

who had been rooted / once in ground like hers / but now roam across tomorrow.

escape, release

I wonder what it can be like, your life –
now that we’ve become detached
and you may flourish on your own –
a life full of excuses, self-discipline

as foreign to your tongue as any word
of Suomen kieli or Euskera, distant from your mind
as Ottoman order, power and decadence,
as Byzantine magnificence, manifesting God.

A life spent praying, searching, yearning:
for mercy without honesty….
for art, for math, for love, for innocence….
for kind acceptance with disbelief
suspended, between spirit and dependence;

a life indulging fantasy unanchored,
rejoicing in elusive charming freedoms,
in poverty patched by narrow bands of peace
and grace and garlanded deceptions;

a life lived too intensely but not well,
preying on its past in solitary spaces;
a life that I escaped, but at a cost.
And I wonder, What do you want?