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I stand in the somewhat battered plenitude

of my life, a man in his own garden

in the almost middle of May overawed

by the beauty of lime trees.

They form the boundary between two schools

on the other side of the wall,

these tall latecomers into leaf;

and how long have I waited until

the catch in my breath

when I stepped out the back door last night

and they glistened fresh as morning

in the pallor of city lights?

But gazing at them today

in the slightly drunk mid-afternoon,

I am baffled, ill at ease.

How can I hold my ground against this:

lime trees in newest leaf,

gentle arboreal fireworks

showering in stillness,

clusters of leaf-green stars?

Pendulous with their random constellations,

a receding row of universes,

they stand as much beyond

my language as beyond my wall,

and I’m afraid to look at them

much longer, in case I’ll be struck dumb

or spend the rest of my days

gibbering about lime trees.


       From The Old Women of Magione (1997)

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