As the end of March approaches, I think of southern Italy – Calabria – the tiny town of Caulonia Superiore where we spent the weeks leading up to Easter and watched it unfold around us.
The sky roils;
swallows knit webbed gyres
among the baroque sag of rooftops.
Across the way they’re fixing one;
new russet barrel tiles sealed over
old timber bones.
I hear a sound like the pounding
Of a battering ram or the cleaving
Of an immense stump
Contrapunted with a loud HUP.
My daughter sleeps with the abandon
of an unfettered shutter swinging in a stiff wind.
A woman in her fifties climbs the stairs
to the house where she and my daughter
were both conceived.
We regard each other with
that part of the eye
which admits an alternate aim.
The pounding stops.
The church bells go off
with the percussive invective
of a fire alarm
They say it’s peculiar to here:
someone sounds the bell
not with the pull of a knotted rope
but with the unlevered force of arms.
This is the…
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