Return to Exile

The Angelus came suddenly, behind you,
Swift as an ambush in the dead of night.
You stood, startled; from your hands the shovel
Slipped and fell into the loose earth, upright.

A dull sound at the final stroke. Your gaze recalled
A blank sun burning in an October sky,
And a man's voice, reared, cursing gods long dead:
Io no piangeva; si dentro impietrai.
Piangevan elli

No! That was not what you meant to say,
Voice and words and gesture of despair,
That was not it, at all.

You turn away; the wind pierces you.
Your eyes lift shaking, where the grey light
Meets the quivering air. There, whirled
Beneath the circuit of the shuddering Bear,
The shadow that is the turning of the earth
Portends some final desolation.
We feel the whir of the long locust years
Stir in wave after dry wave the trembling field.
We hear the grating roar begin, and cease, and burn
Across our shoulders, and then again begin
With a tortured cadence, like the rush of stones.

A reel of indignant birds, fleeing.
Village of embers where sunlight ebbs
Like a swell into the waters, your bells
Shake across the strand - strange,
Like a cry heard far away, from another street,
A voice heard without recollection.

The wind. The wind.

In the break, the stillness between two breaths,
Black wings spiral like a cry, shattering the light;
The great city's madness, martyr, where you fall
Silent and trembling at the edge of night.


  1. Beautiful use of Italian. I love your imagery.

  2. Merci beaucoup.

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