among the stone saints and martyrs
feeling emptiness echo
throughout the ancient church. We stay
in our storied homes
cloistered with beads and candles. hearing the sea
wash ashore with a wide seam of foam, the scent of salt
and kelp sewn within. Other birds
masked in black
pierce the sky with their operatic pitch
singing the height of our panic.
And yet, when the sun’s breath
spills on the terrace, its metal garden
faded to verdigris, we step out
breathing fresh air, pushing wind chimes
into the poignant joy
of being known, of blending hope
with memory —
cioa bella, cioa bella.
Today, the saddest news comes out of Italy with a death toll, from the Coronavirus, exceeding that of China. We watch daily as the cases pile higher and the mortality rate increases over there as well as in our own nation/state. Yet, a few days ago, it was reported that people in Italy came out on their balconies and united through song, the rhythmic banging of pots and perhaps the ethereal ring of wind chimes. It was the soul of music sustaining them, the bittersweet desperation of hope and memory blending to create a moment of grace and beauty. I have tried to capture a moment similar to that in this poem. No, it is not exactly meant to be the residents of Italy but that personal space of us all who shelter in place yet need to still be heard, recognized and reach out with faith, prayer and compassion, to celebrate our ability to take in the day’s breath and sing of its small glory.