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Three Years

Who among us is not
a hollow space, prayers
sung to leafless branches
and the shocking light of dawn?

There was a child in Florence
his hair a vine of blackened split rope
woven in knots, brushed back
by small impatient hands.

His face was a moon,
white, smooth, often in shadow
as he hurried the familiar cobbled route
from the Mercado Centrale,

carrying bread for the week
and a few precious pieces of salted meat
to his black-eyed mother.
She waited, knowing her only son

was safe: she taught him where
the thieves lingered, and how
to use a small knife on a large throat.
She was a high-flamed fire

love and rage
in equal parts, which,
I suppose,
is another name for wisdom.

I know this child well.
He looks exactly like
my daughter, who is small of limb
and holds infinity in her palm

She is the universe,
she is but a particle
in empty space –
she is a boy in Florence

six hundred years old.
Soon she will be three.
The party will be loud and fussy
and she will hold court

rather like the Florentine aristocrats,
all power and secrets, from centuries ago;
the boy caught glimpses of them
as he ran through fog, fighting thieves.

written for my youngest,
who is brave and too beautiful,
and who on dia de los muertos
will be 3. A monumental age indeed.

Je suis desole, mon amour, pour le depart
de votre papa (et maman).
Nous t’aimons.
Toujours et toujours et toujours.