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By A Swimming Pool Outside Syracusa

 All afternoon I have been struggling
to communicate in Italian
with Roberto and Giuseppe, who have begun
to resemble the two male characters
in my Italian for Beginners,
the ones who are always shopping
or inquiring about the times of trains,
and now I can hardly speak or write English.
I have made important pronouncements in this remote limestone valley with its trickle of a river, stating that it seems hotter today even than it was yesterday and that swimming is very good for you, very beneficial, you might say.
I also posed burning questions about the hours of the archaeological museum and the location of the local necropolis.
But now I am alone in the evening light which has softened the white cliffs, and I have had a little gin in a glass with ice which has softened my mood or— how would you say in English— has allowed my thoughts to traverse my brain with greater gentleness, shall we say, or, to put it less literally, this drink has extended permission to my mind to feel—what's the word?— a friendship with the vast sky which is very—give me a minute—very blue but with much great paleness at this special time of day, or as we say in America, now.

Poem by Billy Collins
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