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Postcards from Genoa

ISSUE:  Spring 2004

1. In a Strange City

The light, nearly unreal
scent of the Mediterranean,
crowds on the streets at midnight—
some festival has begun,
who knows which one,
a skinny cat scoots
beneath our knees,
the gypsies eat dinner
as if singing:
white houses above them,
an unknown tongue.
I’m human,
I feel joy.

2. Piazza Vittoria

Cars doze on Piazza Vittoria—
we no longer know which victory it was
in this archaic town, which
lost and won more than once,
now gallantly, like Hector,
now with Ulysses’ cunning;
the sun drifts above the skyscrapers of clouds
and this medieval labyrinth.
A tired tourist sits on a park bench
and yawns; clouds sail from west to east.

3. Columbus’s House

This is the modest house of someone who
set off for a long while, for another continent,
but left without knowing
his new address—and just kept here
a small pied-à-terre.
No one knows, no one can know
if Columbus will come back to Genoa—
we wait for him,
eating our sandwiches,
drinking Coca-Cola.

4. The Sea Talks to Itself

The sea talks to itself,
ceaselessly whispers or shrieks,
scolds itself,
methodically scans verses,
quiets down for a day,
then once again takes up
its endless monologue.
It sings songs no one
hums archaic lullabies.
The sea talks to itself
and us.


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