It starts when you say the grapevines, splayed
on wires, look like twisted crucifixes,
and that the hillside vineyards we wind past
in our little rented Fiat
are graveyards of the chosen.
And now that Easter has arrived, I add,
so has the resurrection of the vines:
a few green leaves and shoots uncurl
which, later on, will yield the blood of Christ.
Our windshield frames a fresco
brought to life, and where the road
bends, two cherry trees in white sleeves
perform a pantomime Annunciation.
Oh, we can’t help ourselves:
the rough stone farmhouses remind us
of country chapels, the landscape itself
is spired with cypresses, and the new green wheat
spreads rich and flowing vestments on the fields.
By evening, a monastery on a hill,
its bricks infused with pink light, seems
almost a miracle: a place to stay.
But it’s just chance, and we’re just passing through.
The crucifix between the beds
separates us only for one night,
and we’d be happy if the rain
that just began to drum the tile roof
washed clean our sleeping minds
so that tomorrow we can see
the world afresh, for what it really is.
Jeffrey Harrison, a winner of the 1998 National Poetry Series, has also received the Lavan Award and an NEA Fellowship, among other honors. (1993)