On the cathedral steps sprinkled by the bells’ benediction
like water that blissfully stained the scorching street,
you were not among the small crowd in the sun,
so many in black against the Sicilian heat.
I never entered the shaded church with its pews
facing the tortured altar, but I hoped to find you:
Oh, I did, halfheartedly, but by now it was no use.
The bells meant nothing or the swallows they lifted;
still I felt you were ahead and I was right behind you,
and that you would stop on your shadow and turn your head,
and there in Sicily turn into salt, into fiction.
I don’t know the cathedral’s name. It’s in Syracuse.
I bought a paper in a language I cannot read.
There was nothing in the paper about this. It wasn’t news.
February 14, 2008