I Figli di Mondovì

2013-E2-43-17 001JOHN I. CLARKE
These two boys who appear in the doorway
of the Café Bertaina, scamper
between tables like untrained pups before
their sisters, older, wiser at eight and almost
ten; they who let curls tumble to their
shoulders and stare their superior stares.
Parents skim the latest from La Stampa
letting the chocolate take its hold, spooning
cream to the cup to merge and sink, rich and
thick like family love.

The girl at the corner table ties her
scarf alla moda, and while her boy drinks
deeply from her eyes, with speeding thumbs she
touches her friends.

Out in the piazza, toothless women
suck, squeeze and regurgitate gossip.
This is the bench which affords the view
of the cobbles and scaffolded stone,
of the pantiles skewed and broken, of the
years which pass like ghosts.

Church bells issue a sonorous summons,
a discordant clang waving over walls,
alleys, and lanes falling from this hilltop,
out to the farm dogs chained and raging at
padlocked metal gates, to regimented
lines of vines, olives, squashes and maize, to
the parched edges of fields where vipers lie
shining their diamonds in the sun.

Out to the Sanctuary of Regina
Montis Regalis Basilica
where a rich man bought and built his way
to thread himself through the needle’s eye.

The church bells of Chiesa della Missione,
the cracked metal invitation served to
the mourners in their black saloons to grieve, wake
and celebrate.

With a single arm
the clock on the Tower of Belvedere
folds everything in its power; packing
smiles and tears, arrivals and departures,
unifying time. And we, the children
of Mondovi are swept across its face.

Photo by Lorenzo Avico

This poem was written after John I. Clarke’s visit to Mondovì for the poetry twinning “Da terre a terre” https://www.margutte.com/?p=2287 https://www.margutte.com/?p=2287&lang=en
An interview with the poet can be found here: https://www.margutte.com/?p=2356&lang=en