...meanwhile, the horserace (or turtle race) continues...


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).

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