November 29, 2012

Tony Barnstone

YOUNG WOMAN DRINKING AT THE CAMPO DI’FIORE
(WHERE GIORDANO BRUNO WAS BURNED AT THE STAKE
FOR HERESY IN 1600 FOR CLAIMING THAT THE EARTH
ORBITED AROUND THE SUN)

On the green plastic chair she’s so alive
and blazing he can barely glance at her
as he drinks soda and Campari here
where tourists congregate like pigeons, and love
for just a day in Rome. He thinks her smile
is frightening. It yields such pent-up light
that he needs courage watching it ignite
not to flinch back. She is the sun. He smells
the fire and falters, almost mute, breath short.
He feels his stomach fulminate in red,
smoke his eyes from her flame of dark hair,
the breasts electric in her brown stretch shirt;
he’s splintered into kindling but upright,
and he keeps talking as flames drown the square.

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004

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