It takes a thunderstorm at least, the drops

like apples, awakening recollections,

part real, part dreamed,

of cinematic episodes, and of surreal open places; standing

huddled beneath narrow awnings

licking our cones of the rich brown

ice cream that they sell at the store on the corner,

( ‘e speciale, she said; you cannot get

it anywhere else.) watching the merchants

bundling in their wares, artists

retreating to odd corners, everyone

hovering, waiting

for the apples to turn into loaves

of bread, and for the wine

growing mellow on the damp tables,

to be transmuted into gold.

It takes a summer downpour; it takes

a thunderstorm like an angry bull to clear a square this size

in a city like Rome, to wash it down

like some god with a giant mop;

Far better than a mob of policemen

with their whistle-sticks and their stick-like-whistles

ready to declare officially that it is now night,

shutting the square as if it were a nunnery, and restricted,

dousing lights, reducing the fountain’s flow to a trickle,

covering the Four Continents with a veil

of green gauze, chasing dogs,

closing gates you would not have known to have existed;

Searching out the last stragglers

licking the remnants of their rich deserts

from sticky fingers. This rain’s far better:

a gentle admonishment. We drift quietly,

slipping off softly to our respective bedrooms. I

drop a poem as a small gesture

of farewell into the great fountain.

It goes deep, then rises amidst cataracts,

and, excitingly, it floats.

Like some ancient reeded vessel

it bobbles up the Nile River to its source.