Italian Square

Hecht saw a hill here.
It turned out to be a vision
of Poughkeepsie:
half symbol, half memory.

And in a memorable
mostly forgotten phrase
William Dean Howells
said here lies the home of human nature.

Glück studied the moon above it
while reinventing Pavese
for the first time.
As if it were a sore subject
nettling a family, her country
remains unnamed.
Her village is any village,
her lettuces plain lettuce.

McHugh found poetry
in the silence of its statues

and when Hugo heard
Kennedy had been shot
Italians chased him across the square.
At their “noisy knives” of “why”
he wept like a “perfect wop.”
Wilbur fell in love with the music

a wall-fountain made

but by the end of the century
Henri Cole found nothing there
but bobbing Fanta cans,
a kind of poetry dead,
and the freedom one feels
when things have changed for good.

Copyright © 2021 by Will Schutt. This poem originally appeared in The  Hopkins Review, vol. 14, no. 4 (Fall 2021). Used with the permission of the author.