There are secrets behind the intricate wrought iron gates, in the hills of Sant’Ambrogio,
Rusted and ingrown into stone like the holidaying generations from Milan.
Old back gates, secreting away abandoned gardens and forbidden villas
Where pillared flourishes still languish in the spreading pools of oily greens.
I pass the gates and feel the cool damp whisperings of secrets to be left alone;
Some former saint’s forgotten grotto, some long repentant sinner’s ill begotten gains,
A horse chained to an ancient wall, a sighing virgin with a fish’s tail,
An infant’s stillborn body carried down a staircase of papered red and gold.
They still come here, the pallid ghosts, to argue and make merry noise.
Some stand out front, hiding their histories behind them in the dappled shade,
Some lie on deckchairs without shame, their secrets spread out in the heat,
Some calling out in hoarse voices as they demand more wine
From liveried skeletons still slumped against the ochre walls.
You have taken pain where others have just taken pills and silver needles
You have given time when they have given empty coffers filled with coins
You walked on by those rusted gates and you were never an intruder
Despite the cries for help and threats and curses coming from within.
There is a secret sunny patch, somewhere, at the top of Sant’Ambrogio.
We will build a yellow house there, or maybe we will go elsewhere.
For sure, we’ve made mistakes, but we don’t need to live behind corroded lillies,
We will embrace regret and make amends like once we courted friends.
– o –
Written on occasion of Francesca’s birthday.