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I've been haunted by this poem since I read Jim Moore's book at Fripp, what it says to me--an American, a mother, a woman, a human being with a propensity for selfishness.

On the Train To Venice

The first and least important mistake
was to take the train on Sunday, September 1st,
the last day of vacation for millions of Italians.
Though the train was packed,
we had thought to bring sandwiches.
We ate while everyone around us—sitting, standing,
filling every possible inch of floor space—
went profoundly silent and watched
as if we were demonstrating a new technique
for brain surgery, one never tried before,
gone horribly wrong.

Not long after we finished, out of nowhere
came water, sandwiches, and fruit,
every last bit of it offered all around,
especially to those who had brought
nothing with them. Such kindness
and pleasure, such gratitude, except
on the part of the two Americans
who had eaten their fill alone,
in silence, as if the world was empty
of everything but themselves.


Collin said...

Well that about sums up the American experience in Europe. The concept of "ugly American" is still alive and well. I have learned to blend in when I'm in Europe and go with the flow of the surroundings. If you're going to be an asshole abroad, you might as well stay home.

minus five said...

this is crazy. because i have been thinking about this shot i took before i moved to ny and doing a post about it. and i think i will when i get home and locate it. its not so much about america, but people (the shot). i guess its all the same, really.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm not sure how to really take this poem. I think the oddest thing is that as an American looking at another American's experience, I can only think of the sheer innocence of their mistake, and how such things still effect the way we are viewed by others.

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