"No. 1 Piazzetta Calamandrei"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Dec. 20 2011 6:57 AM

"No. 1 Piazzetta Calamandrei"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Alan Williamson read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

Lion or lamb that faced my study window—
head too effaced to tell—in the medallion
on the palazzo with the overhanging roof. ...
Would it still ask me
the things it asked me then, across the cleft
where the sun crept down so slowly, adding only
not what have you accomplished, but have you changed?
Does being you still mean walking your own mind
as if it were a tightrope? With anger rising
against those nearest you, as if they were depriving you
of some dearest hope?
What is the thing, the flaming-up or darkening,
that brings you peace?
No answers. But why does a sudden joy
go through me, at this thinning of the veil
between me then and now?
For a moment I no longer fear the death
that waits for me,
as if it were no more than the drawing of a just sum.
Pausing, as if to enter,
my hand on the great knob of the street door. ...

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.

Alan Williamson teaches at the University of California, Davis and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program. His most recent books are The Pattern More Complicated: New and Selected Poems and Westernness: A Meditation.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.