In Sicily, On the Road to Gela
By summer, they had grown into masses
of tall ragged opium poppies mostly
red but here and there pink and purple petals
fluttering below the sunflowers.
Here, on the road to Gela
stinking town of chemicals and tangled steel
she sits on a wrought-iron stool
by the side of the road
short black shorts, bosoms spilling from black lace,
red stilettos defining her smooth black legs.
A car slows.
The few words are negotiated.
She slides next to him and through the window
looks toward the blanket of poppies,
thin crepe skins folding too easily into themselves
fragile, she thinks, and without substance
unlike the firm succulence of lilies
or even the brave peonies crashing to their deaths
in the sweet blush of life.
Lying on her back in that numb drudgery
she can see the impossible stars
and in the deeper dark behind her eyes
the old greenhouse
dried poppies in a pot
the tiny black seeds escaping
through the holes.
by Carol A. Amato
Editor’s Note: This poem begins simply, but the narrative soon tangles into a complicated pattern of difficulty, presented with the most lovely, spare imagery, that a reader will be left reeling by the last line.