Salerno, 1959
Poem by Bernard Henrie   •   Photo by Irras Han
 

Wind rumples the wine shop canvas like a mother
throwing off bedclothes–
a sign of the late hour and nudge to go home.
 
The waiter is asleep and the owner
looks at his wristwatch while turning a newspaper.
The cockatoo rests immobile in his cage,
sea-green head tucked under a dark wing.
 
The season changes tonight, or first thing tomorrow.
I will replace a fan with my English umbrella;
the bus queue will form long and orderly as always.
Rain squalls will soak my book, my lump of tie
will turn sodden as old magazines by the road.
 
For a few more days I will carry your scarf
in a breast pocket like a tobacco pouch,
pass the school where you practiced speaking French,
sit at the phonograph with your almost deaf mother
read at the wine shop, elbows on the domino board.
   
If I thought I would see you again tilling a family patch
of red chicory, or changing a bathing costume at the river
or once again that your journalist’s desk would abut mine,
that hope is black smoke rising from a Vatican chimney.

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