If they ask, tell them about the hotel—a medieval tower
that distorted acoustics, and from the lobby,
a morning sneeze spiraled up fifty steps to my door.
That the owner pouted each time she remembered
I travelled alone. If they ask what I saw, tell them
a short walk opened into a huge piazza where students
slept on stone, and backpacks and bellies served as pillows.
Children blew bubbles. Men hawked umbrellas.
And reigning above it all, a she-wolf
statue suckled twin boys. If they ask what I heard,
tell them a man reminded me of you,
his eyes closed to the sky making love to his violin.
Say among the thousands in Siena, I eavesdropped
on an Italian couple arguing in the crowd,
as if it all came down to this defining moment,
forcing a sea of moving tourists to part around them,
then come together again. I wanted to wave a wand over
their rising voices. If they ask how different night
was from day, say at night I bolted the shutters
against thunder. Tell them the ceiling made of tree trunk
and pitted bricks rumbled. And as the sky let loose,
I let go a sadness and a joy I had pulled too tight,
and I cried with abandon. If they ask,
tell them dawn was clear-eyed like a Roman sun
pouring wash buckets onto cobbled alleys.
Tell them outside my window across tiers of rooflines,
pigeons wrestled insects from moss on the clay tiles,
a dawning palette rang in a day of mottled gray.
Jo Brachman has published poems in Best New Poets 2016, Bellingham Review, Cimarron Review, Poet Lore, Birmingham Poetry Review, and others.