Overlooking the Cortile

for T

Late winter yet we stood at the open window
Its green wood shutters pushed back like wings
Against the walls of the ancient building
We stood at the aperture of the narrow room
Looking down onto the fountain in the cortile
Her old room now mine & she said nothing
Of the year she’d slept here
Knowing the Russian painter she loved
Was out somewhere on the streets of Rome
Walking with his Contessa every evening at dusk
As the grief of a rossignol ran down the stones of
The faded wall just outside her window & along the ivy
Seeping slowly as water from the lips of Orpheus
& those liquid sobs of a Roman nightingale

Copyright © 2021 by David St. John. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.