Peace Talks with Equilibrium
After Anthony Hecht
This thin-lipped American girl 
spoon feeds gelato to a bulldog
and I realize this city isn’t a city at all,
but a small dungeon inside a tortoise shell
gently rocking on a calm sea.

We can escape, they say, but only
if we’re willing to slam ourselves 
repeatedly against the gates 
until the guards have had enough.
But then, of course, there are those 

reptilian walls of Tuscany,
which are impenetrable.
Once, I heard of a young man
who made the long voyage 
through Pistoia to the border region,

sneaking past local Carabinieri 
with only the clothes on his back.
He used an espresso spoon 
like a tiny chisel, carving away for days
at the softer part of the regional wall.

Some say he is still swimming, by now 
off the coast of Sardegna, but not me.
I think he’s just like all the rest of us here,
sipping a macchiato at the bar,
fighting the urge to splash it on the barista 

and scurry out the door—
milk foam gathering at the corners 
of my puckered lips, like an old man
with a dried-up cotton mouth, 
a rabid raccoon.
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