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Lest We Be Scattered

                                    Emily A. Benton

Something about the sea
was all we could discuss—
that he’d caught frutti di mare
on Venerdi and I also thought
the surf was molto azzurre.
Or maybe he picked fruit
in a field as wide as the sea
and it was me who didn’t
appear on Fridays?
I couldn’t know.
We spoke only once.
I was trying to blend in
at a bar invaded by pigeons.
My lap collected crumbs
from a pastry mispronounced.
Old men yarned bocce balls
across the piazza
while we bartered words
like precious stones, our nerves
gesturing waves into espresso cups.
Neither of us was in any rush,
though he could have spindled
the minutes with someone else.
I was just a stupid foreigner
but this I know: Our lumbered
syllables were enough to tower a sky,
our phrases patch-worked
to sail a sea more blue than most.
Or maybe I flew miles to talk
with a stranger who was only
out for coffee or fishing for a smoke.

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