I was in Italy once and there was a mask shop.
I was in Italy once and there was a bridge.
I was twenty and wandering the country
like I wandered my mind. The sweat-and-cigarette
packed metro, the stains on the hostel pillow,
even the knife-eyed men calling across alley
came through in soft focus. I filed them away, all under S
for Story. I was in Italy once, and I was sick,
as sick as I've ever been. My throat swelled
and my chest filled with pebbles. My heart clattered
like a roughshod horse if I walked up a flight
of steps. But I ate cheese and bread heartily,
thinking, like Heidi, it would make me strong.
It didn't, but days went by and I forgot, slowly,
the frantic thumping. I was in Italy once and I drank
cooking sherry from a jug. Someone laughed, and I
filed that away, too. I was in Italy once, on a payphone
on a dock on an island. A man approached, and I spoke
the language brokenly, said "phone" and "United
States" and he nodded and stepped back. It was,
inexplicably, my proudest moment. I was in Italy
once and I watched a curtain of pigeons lift
over St. Mark's Square. I thought, I am watching this.
I thought, what a good word: curtain. Later,
I ate tiramisu on the canal and was aware
of doing so. I was always aware of doing so.
In Venice I thought the clouds were mountains
in the distance, and made a note of my foolishness.
Later, I realized they were. I was in Italy once
and thought I could tell my own story.
Catherine Pierce's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Narrative Theory by Catherine Pierce )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(01 January 1950)
Harivansh Rai Bachchan
(27 November 1907 – 18 January 2003)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963)
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