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COPYRIGHT Poem-a-Day Collection by Knopf. Compilation copyright 2009 by Knopf. All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
By Jack Gilbert
There is always the harrowing by mortality, the strafing by age, he thinks. Always defeats. Sorrows come like epidemics. But we are alive in the difficult way adults want to be alive. It is worth having the heart broken, a blessing to hurt for eighteen years because a woman is dead. He thinks of long before that, the summer he was with Gianna and her sister in Apulia. Having outwitted the General, their father, and driven south to the estate of the Contessa. Like an opera. The fiefdom stretching away to the horizon. Houses of the peasants burrowed into the walls of the compound. A butler with white gloves serving chicken in aspic. The pretty maid in her uniform bringing his breakfast each morning on a silver tray: toast both light and dark, hot chocolate and tea both. A world like Tosca. A feudal world crushed under the weight of passion without feeling. Gianna's virgin body helplessly in love. The young man wild with romance and appetite. Wondering whether he would ruin her by mistake.
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