Mary Jane Ryals Tallahassee (Michael Trammell)
Florence after Lockdown, 2021
--for Greg, Jonathan and Michael
On the bones of my ears I hear chatter
all day and all night, the chatter of Saturday city--
the bust-out from lockdown for months
the echo off Santa Croce piazza of dog bark
of horse clip-clop, of dishes clattering,
church bells clanging, the double-door slam
of palacio entrada. In the alleys song of North
Africans calling to god, that release of pain.
Our neighbors who live here say during Covid
Firenze was so quiet that the foxes and porcupines
walked the abandoned city streets. On Sunday
in the Duomo, the pipe organ blasts bass,
vibrates through us like lions, the priest’s voice
a rasping tenor, tender surprise. The solo by the alto
reminds my ears of water and wavy glass
in a beach house at sunrise. Where are you?
Where is your sound when you are thinking?
For me, the purple flowers in pots at Le Vespe
Ristorante sing the soprano of the choir woman--
slow vibrato rising as incense up and up. These old
choir songs take me to Appalachian Americana songs
700 years later, only with guitars and banjos, their major
and minor weaving like Penelope’s silk gowns. This
wistful prayer, yes that same release of pain.