In the Apennine tunnel between San Benedetto-Val di Sangro in Italy, 18 people were killed by a terrorist bomb, December 23, 1984.
I could have been on that train,
as I often hurl through those mountains,
pulled back down the claustrophobic streets of Florence
and forward to our precise pledge
to know what we can of each other.
I am usually half-thinking
through windows. Olive, vine
twine in truce. Nothing in Italy rises new.
Tunnels through the Apennines—
whose deaths do we thank
for opening centuries
The whistle blows
and we never see
the intricate set of signals.
We get on,
we have a name and a place
that the dark is not
that we’ll not surrender
to the banal whiff of violence
the threat under
What is that dark seam
tearing through the mountains?
In some ways, it’s the life-fuse
The hour has never been different.
That hand in the window
is waving a white flag.
We’re speeding to the point
where we must show
that not just fools love.
In your green eyes
the bursting ways you’ve died for me
and I for you
leave places of clearing.
A little and a lot
we inch forward.
My eye and my hand,
between them an improbability,
stars, the Dolomites, a Roman amphora,
snow flakes, your light breathing,
and now news that rhinos are disappearing.
Long after we recognize our shadow
as one version mediating another’s
the hope for a brighter atmosphere condenses:
to see the pool and minnows underneath
detached from the larches and you moving on the surface.
Journeying into someone’s eyes
the brain saturates with
frank and contrasting hues.
The same for a vein of a leaf.
We reach for things,
leave prints in melting snow,
burn holes in matchbox covers,
use binoculars, talk again and again.
These green snips,
little moves, scraps
are real like the rest
of what we can’t quite
piece together. Saying
soul it feels like these mountains
that were once the ocean floor.
Drawing a Line
Alone at the table, with a thin
and shadows on the tablecloth
nothing frightens me deeply
about the broken pieces.
They represent two lives
like a house does, with a torn roof
an album of pictures that if you look
at the well-timed smiles
little of a real story can been seen,
not the golden boat oared by a spirit
not the butterfly as big as my hand
with dark wings and eye spots like madness
not the struggle that went on
with your mother in your heart.
One obvious missing element is
the bee-keepers’ suits
we wore to keep death
from stinging us. Stroke. Do you remember
how in New York they say hello
like an insult or a light smirk
to wake one up from the wrong line?
In Italian it means a blow
or a hit.
In English, a mark,
someone brushing or rowing. It means
a profound mark
that in your case
came within one hair from stopping
your life. And now you are walking,
the stores are in front of you,
two winters have passed.
From a stroke one seeks
a source or a story,
an explanation for the power of a blow;
how one small vessel
we never saw
or thought about
or even considered when defining a life
released its bewildering, dense glory,
on either side
by drawing a line.