Ira Sadoff
In Siena

There’s a replica of Him writhing on the cross
they cart across the square, and what’s the meaning there,
crossing your path? It’s years ago, black and white tiles

in center city, where yesterday and today mean less
than coughs in a handkerchief. You can circumscribe
the fortress that saved them from the Florentines,

or didn’t save them, I forget so much even as I try
to paint who’s with me. I don’t want her there,
I want the replica, where the hysteria’s all theater:

there’s an act or two followed by applause, a stroll
through a churchyard, an orchard, a sweet bloody glass
of Dolcetto D’alba…now I try to retain the closeness,

keeping it vivid but not letting it overwhelm,
sticking with it, letting it shake me, going back to
she was available when I drifted toward her,

then it’s so late, I still don’t know where I’m going,
where to turn my attention next, what to lean on, going back
to the flash point, twisting it, granting its full weight.

Or else I could be sensible, make it smaller,
give it perspective, let daily life stake out its erasures
at the same time it heaps on the new. Then

where do the voices go, the seconds, the sex parts,
the window into someone else’s life, the window wide open
for hours at a time, the breeze going through it,

you going through it, you going through
with that person what almost no one’s been through,
before they have to…what’s on their list of things to do?

Drive around the neighborhood, pointing to
the church you attended as a child, the bed where your child slept,
the kitchen table where you can discuss the mortgage:

can you afford this pleasure, what’s the cost of looking?
What if you can’t find the house you want,
all those hours expended? Then there’s the paint

chipping off like small change, the door off its hinge,
the ugly stain where the tub once overflowed.
How urgent is it? To repair or let things decay as they are.

To Him, no question fo a choice: it meant
loving everyone, taking on their suffering as yours,
shaving in their mirror, saving every scrap of paper.

The story’s so familiar you’re almost married to it,
you go shopping with it,, you aregue over who, yes who
could have possibly…when the blistering heat of that afternoon

suddenly flushes your cheek, and the person beside you asks,
“What’s wrong?” You hardly hear them as their voice
wheels around the heart chamber, mingling, flooding to a stop.

Found In Volume 30, No. 04
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Ira Sadoff
About the Author

Ira Sadoff is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Barter, and Grazing (U. of Illinois), a novel, O. Henry prize-winning short stories, and The Ira Sadoff Reader (a collection of stories, poems, and essays about contemporary poetry).