Back in 1290 AD London,
I don’t know what would have happened to me.
I might have made it across the Channel—
no donkey or dog, God knows. Sorry, God
would not have known or given a damn.
Some Middle English in my head,
chilly, thought it best to head south.
The compass had not yet arrived from China,
a person like me might have known
the stars teach direction. A venerable rabbi taught,
“Moss often grows on the north side of trees,
there is safety among swarms of blackflies and bees.”
I might have descended past Aix-en-Provence,
in need of rest, stopped, picnicked on wild strawberries.
I hope I read Roman de la Rose
before I crossed the cruel Catholic Pyrenees,
passed some gothic days and nights
in Barcelona, “Ciudad de mis amores,”
escaped a fiery death on Montjuïc.
I hope I, another, dined on sea urchins.
I walked to Cartagena, Santes Creus,
for the love of life to dazzling Córdoba
where I discovered the highest degree of charity:
Make someone independent,
the second highest—Give charity in secret.