An Austro-Canadian in Italy

Two weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to join a group of Austrian blacksmiths on their journey to the world blacksmithing championship in Stia, Italy. This poem is a sort of culmination of the various interesting experiences I had there – from hole-in-the-floor bathrooms, to five-course meals, they sure had it all.

We drive into a game of Minecraft
pass anti-terrorist stations without a bother
(The bar lifts, no need for passports)
drive on, drive on through a European Philippines

Public enemy: public bathrooms
without seats, without that northern need to pay
no fifty-cent charge, no landlocked terrain
Order pasta without a word of Italian
like a multi-cultural sage stricken mute

Up, up, up the mountains
passing Lego cars, tiny as the collective imagination
The buildings all brick; the rock all sedimentary
Layers upon layers follow us into no-man’s-land

Dinner that day is traditional
Serve me once, shame on you
Serve me twice, shame on me
Serve me three times –
where did all these courses come from?
Serve me five times, we’re in Italy

Back and forth like the ‘scape
Hammers ring and people mime like pros
Before we know it the bus is loaded
beers before midday, Austrian cheers
prayers sung at mealtime, prost
the works

We drive back out of that Minecraft game
into the familiar expanse of Terraria

M.
Sept 1-16/17

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