Friday, August 11, 2006

187. CAPRICCIO ITALIEN - Stephen Dunn

From the mountain drifts down the finest mist,
so fine you walk in it, letting it glaze
your hair, while boats on the lake bob and blur.
This is not your country; everything you see––
cobblestoned ancient streets, unbrella'd tables,
laundry hanging from the balconies of the poor––
appears meaningful.
Just off the piazza, a window display
of squab and rabbit and roasted pig.
No outsized dream sullens the friendly clerks.
If they're unhappy you're happy
a tradition helps them not to let it show.
You buy the most expensive tie you've ever bought,
silk and wide, blue with subtle, well-spaced dots.
You try on a flamboyant scarf. In the mirror
someone foolish stares back at you.
You take it anyhow.
You're a woman's man, and you're womanless.
How absurd to think anyone can escape
being judged for what he doesn't have.
Oh the chosen gloomy beauty of a tourist town––
you've always known
what lifts you up can get you down.
You've come far to feel this keenly low.
The pigeons coo their greedy songs.
You break off bits of bread and leave no trail.
At dusk, if the mist is gone, you plan to sit
with some grappa in a slender glass.
You're sure the swallows won't disappoint––
swoop and dive as they did the night before,
mindless, wild, wholly in control.

No comments: