The rough white marble’s like stained silver
under the scorching light of the
blazing July sun.
It’s everywhere. Blinding me,
hurting my vision, my limbs,
suffocating, reminding me of the trap I was held in.
The streets are empty with no one in sight,
I check the big clock of the tower
behind the basilic of Saint Francis of Assisi.
It’s 2 o’clock on a mid-summer Tuesday afternoon.
My heart’s hitting the walls of its all so tight ribcage,
as I need to cross the brightly lit square
and go to the other side,
leave the shadow, leave my hideout,
leave life under the trees.
Steeping out in the open square’s
walking directly into the firestorm,
on a battlefield
in an occupied territory
of a dying city.
I take a heavy step, followed by another.
My feet are made of lead, my breath- of gunpowder
my hands numb, my fingers trembling,
my skin hurting,
my eyes against the dazzle – worse.
But I keep going until I reach another shadow,
until I reach the comfort of a breeze
under an umbrella- it’s the tent of a café
“Are you perhaps French?”
My breath catches, a deep voice in a lulling Italian accent, and I turn.
“Please, come in, sit here in the shade.“
Away from the light, away from the world.
Away from remembering.
I follow in relieved
under the indifferent eyes of the Medusa
peeking at us from above,
perched on the nicely decorated façade of the building across.
I take a final look at what’s been left behind-
at the white sunlight square
so much like a white, burning desert,
so much like home.
Yet not really.
Because no one gets shot –
blood and brains, and bones and lungs spilt
on pretty open squares here.
Cover Art by: Raneesh Ravindran for Indian Ruminations