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The Road from Pisa to Florence

Orchards and dust, heart-shaped shadows
And upside-down children, the road
A strip of flesh stretched to the sun.
A woman carrying a baby and a sack of mint
Tells us that Cellini, Michelangelo, Raphael,
They all passed this way—it’s gratifying
To travel such a celebrated oven: no wind,
Air thick as smoke, clouds bruised into color….
In the evening, under a hedge with our grappa
And lemons, we watch the girls in loose white
Dresses, all hips and sidelong glances,
Smiles running like water; suddenly
A dog cuts into a field, the quails rise,
Echoes falter, darkness melts the hills.
My friend, a painter, blacks over his lines
And pockets his pad:
“We never see a place,” he says,
“Until we leave it behind.” Yes,
And by then it has become someplace else.

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