At the Hotel Duomo, Orvieto, Italy
I haven't figured out the art on the wall
of my hotel room. In the dim light
seeping between heavy drapes
I see only outlines.
Maybe it's a pollywog, I tell myself,
like the ones that swam the creek
I played in as a child. If I come back
next year, it may have morphed
into a frog. I will listen for its croak
at dusk, let it lull me to sleep.
But, no, I think, it is a balloon let loose
on a windy day, the string floating out
behind it. The currents must be strong
to send it flying so fast the string
is almost horizontal. It may sail into a tree
or over the duomo, beyond the hill
on which Orvieto stands, even beyond
the homes and vineyards in the valley below.
I turn on one side, still able to see
the tailed circle. Then I know: it is one sperm
ready to impregnate the egg of an idea,
one idea seeking a mate with which to merge,
placed here to serve as muse
for a seminal thought in the night
when I should be sleeping.
I reach for my pen.
But, alas, when I turn on the light, I see
the tail is no tail, no string. It ends
in an arrowhead pointing away
from the bloated circle. I'm back where I started
in the dark, no hint of the artist's intent,
but with an added conundrum, a question
whether a reader will say the same thing
about these lines scribbled in bed,
half awake, half in a dream.