"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. ...

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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.

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