by Joanna Pearson
Ports are made for entering and leaving,
thus this city redolent of sadness:
like walking off alone to cry, triste;
or, tryst, the lover’s short-lived entanglement,
almost foreboding happiness, but only for a moment.
Two people giggling temporarily on sunlight and Chianti—
like that joy, it doesn’t last long.
We drove here, our last stop, from Sloveniain
a banged-up communist-era two-door car.
This former center of industry and ships,
its harbor filled with cranes and metal works,
seemed too ugly to be Italy almost,
except for the chatter of girls
clattering on heels, the leather stores,
and baby cappuccinos, the women’s tiny waists
and dark hair, their hands swirling
with furious significance, their words rolling,
glamorous and vowel-rich. Ahhhhh.
We saw an amphitheater in ruins,
climbed the hill that overlooks the city.
The Adriatic stretched meaningless before us
yawning a great blue, speckled with boats stalled with their cargo
and cruise ships drifting off to Venice. To the left
the land melted toward the Croatian coast.
Our backs dripped, we squinted through sunglasses,
and wandered into Indian import shops,
fingering cool silk saris and batik shirts,
eyeing bangles and semiprecious stones.
Flip-flopping down the sidewalk, we watched
men push up the shirtsleeves of their light shirts
and frown into folded gazettes beneath the awnings,
impatient for the news from elsewhere.
The gelato stands were still beneath the noise of flies,
their abandoned colors dripping, sickly bright.
It was a hot July. We sat sticky-legged at the station,
bored voyeurs with our lives on pause,
watching other people idle away the morning,
stir lukewarm café con leche, one man running for his train,
another pleading, face to the sky, as his girlfriend left him.
We saw him cry, not even wiping off his tears:
an ancient taste, and Trieste, an ancient city
with its centuries’ accumulation
from Stirring : A Literary Collection Volume 8, Edition 2 : February 2006
Joanna Pearson's work has been included in Best New Poets 2005, the anthology edited by George Garrett and published in conjunction with Meridian at UVA. Her writing has also appeared recently or is forthcoming in the Mississippi Review, storySouth, JAMA, The Raleigh News & Observer, The 2River View, The Journal of Medical Humanities, Small Spiral Notebook, Amarillo Bay, Poetryfish, and Yemassee, where it received the Editor’s Award. She lives in Baltimore, MD.