On the prehistoric spine of Providence
spring trees branch white
with tiny flowerets. Intricate
clouds come down to earth. Once
each April, all the young trees
are almond-shaped. The almond
blooms in winter snow (the round
year interrupted so) and so precedes
the Palio. And so the Palio proceeds -
one horse (the last) sets a race in motion.
Pegasus, molding the Hippocrene fountain,
is pattern for these hill-town cavalcades.
Anxious against the rope the jockeys
plunge their steed-necks; hair's-breadth
will determine (after all the breath-
less muttered dickering) who hoists Mary's
flickering image in the Campo once again.
Meanwhile trees whisper a different course
(I remember small purple-white magnolias
in the courtyard beside the Franciscan
chapel, at the edge of a cliff-like wall).
They hold their places, swaying in the wind.
Sap rises slowly, tuned to long sorrow, blind
adoration. Slowly, lowly... (like a turtle's call).
...meanwhile, the horserace (or turtle race) continues...