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Italy in One Day
Mike Orlock


If I could feed you Italy in one day,
served within a cup for you to savor,
I’d begin in sunny Sorrento
south of Naples,
the morning air perfumed by lemon trees
whose fruit is distilled into the liqueur
that the locals pride themselves in making;
you hold a small espresso cup between index finger and thumb
and wrinkle your nose at the bitter flavor
of a first tentative sip
between nibbles of cheese and bread and fruit
in a tiny cafe that overlooks the Mediterranean
and the hazy outline of the island of Capri in the distance.

If I could feed you Italy in one day,
pressed between the slices of a fresh panini,
I’d take you to the Tuscan hills
far from the beaten paths of tourists
north of Siena,
the afternoon as fresh as laundry
drying on the lattice of clothesline
of the apartment across the piazza;
women’s voices dart like birds overhead,
flying in and out of open windows
as we share bites of our sandwich,
thick with tomato, cheese, and basil—
simple ingredients that yield a complexity
of tastes washed down with swallows of cold beer
under an ice blue sky.

If I could feed you Italy in one day,
prepared al forno like a primo piatto of lasagna or gnocchi,
I’d take you to an obscure osteria just outside the Duomo
in central Florence,
where the waiters sing you to your table
with operatic theatricality
and the vino della casa is the rich ruby colors
of the evening as it settles on the city,
soft as a silk scarf slipping through your fingers;
we feel the heat of the kitchen
press against the cool of coming night,
our noses florid with the spices of our meals 
as we feed each other forkfuls from our plates;
the streets are alive with the commotion of traffic
and the banter of voices bouncing like balls
down the cobblestones of the Via.

If I could feed you Italy in one day,
poured like dark grappa in a delicate tulip glass,
I’d end at a taverna in a remote campo
in the heart of Venice,
where the tables are draped in checkered linen
under quiet awnings far from
the chaos of the Grande Canal;
the sweetness of the day lingers
in the echolalia of lapping water
and the sounds of gondoliers at work;
we indulge ourselves in the ablutions
of vin santo, biscotti dipped in sweet wine,
in limoncello or amaro sipped
from chilled glasses,
in espresso black
as the Venetian sky at night.

If I could feed you Italy in one day,
would we ever feel the need to eat again?



Mike Orlock is a retired high school English and American History teacher who splits time between the Chicago suburbs and a vacation home in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He has been married 37 years to his high school sweetheart and inspiration, Liz. His short stories, poems, and reviews have appeared in a variety of publications such as Reporter-Progress newspapers, The Peninsula Pulse, VerseWisconsin, TriQuarterly, and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets annual calendar.

Post New Comment:
you are breaking my heart....only I want a year of these days. L. Tanner
Posted 10/30/2012 11:29 AM
I wrote earlier but on another server and apparently it didn't go through. I have followed alongside you in this captivating poem. You captured it exactly, the romance of Italy.
Posted 10/25/2012 08:31 PM
Wonderful! I have been to some of these places and you have captured the flavours so well. Travel is about food, (as is love!)
Posted 10/25/2012 12:38 PM
Enough nourishment to last me for several days!
Posted 10/25/2012 10:38 AM
Glen Sorestad:
Now, that is what I call a true Italian feast. Thanks, Mike.
Posted 10/25/2012 10:22 AM
Haven't been there but Mike definitely makes me want to go there. Now.
Posted 10/25/2012 08:26 AM
o, how I yearn for Italy just one more time! my mouth is watering...
Posted 10/25/2012 07:37 AM
Janet Leahy:
I'm hungry for Italian food and a trip back to Italy. Every line is perfect, thanks Mike.
Posted 10/25/2012 07:27 AM
I loved, loved, loved this poem!!!!! I was right there with you in Italy...
Posted 10/25/2012 07:01 AM

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