Once Again

By Kit Burns

 

I donít know if the tree is draped in ice or flowers

all white and weeping.

 

But itís too warm here for ice, so it must be flowers,

not a killing freeze, if you are exposed

as are these flowers.

 

We look across the Adriatic with its stony white shore

and cold breeze. Here it is blue to the horizon, not a cloud

Only fishing boats rocking in concert on the sparkling water.

 

Not a jet, not a vapor trail. You see, the airport is closed

no hint of fire in the sky

nor ashes on the ground.

 

Tanks roll across the land raising dust to settle

on empty villages hiding still-warm hearths

and sheltered, littered ground.

 

On Easter, the rooster wakes us where nearby pigeons coo.

We hold hands and walk downhill to see six newborn piglets

and greet the wise-faced sheep.

 

We are casual in our togetherness, not clinging to each other

as a fearful couple would if jostled by a great crowd

stumbling in the dark.

 

Now, we light the fire in the forno a legna, set

to bake the traditional lasagna and goat.

Luigi mows grass by the loggia.

 

Luciana lays the table for eighteen with brightly colored plates,

jugs of homemade wine and a huge bouquet

cut from the yard.

 

We set out the antipasti all made here on the farmósausages,

cheeses, olives and vegetables

covered by a sheet.

 

The guests arrive and greetings come in German, Italian, English and

Russian.

We group by language and we take pleasure in lingering in Italian

over the comforting feast.

 

But as we break our bread, a childís father is dead

and she wonít tell her name out of fear or shock

having already lost everything dear.

 

Night drapes itself over roofs, beds, tents or people on the ground.

We cuddle under the quilt to sounds of rustling pigeons and the quiet

rooster;

out of earshot, to the north, jets growl aloft.

 

We sleep, but cannot escape their (our) murderous mission.

Never again. We had promised. Never again.

Not the ovens of Hitler, oh, not again.

 

I donít know if the tree is draped in ice or flowers

all white and weeping.



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