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Regina Coeli

ISSUE:  Autumn 1974


This early, the small birds’ trudging notes;
Six storeys high, a crane looms
As in graceful blessing…
Jay-walkers are Roman matadors,
Charioteers drive taxis.

Past the Palazzo di Giustizia,
Its face being lifted, under reed awnings,
We race like dolphins through wet sound.

A new day starts up
      Through a halo of birdsong,
And I remember the Pietà,
She so clothed, he so naked; the withdrawn
      Young face dreaming of her old son.

      Vines branching up from each balcony,
      Flowering pots in each window, whittled-
Back plane trees shouting green;
Umbrella pines guarding old walls.

… My hand held to that warm cheek—
I thought of what hands were
To Michelangelo—they hold, they save;
The hand, the maker, steadiness of the heart
      —Son, my son—
Confirm direction.

The weathered church
      Jail-grey across the street,
      Wisteria everywhere
      Flowering upward
Over the lunging city—
      Pink socks on a Vespa volley off—
Our hands may be cardboard praise…
      Regina Coeli
      Free his youth,
      Give him grace to wake
      To a halo of birdsong!


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