In the city of Cosimo de’ Medici,
two soldiers in fatigues, with automatic rifles;
two armed policemen – one overweight,
a family man, the other tanned, young
and assisting; and three paramedics – one
a girl who struggles with the ambulance’s
sliding door, and all in hi-viz yellow: have come
to take a youth, who lies, grey hooded,
in a station doorway. This tableau, somewhere
west of Bethlehem, freezes, waiting
for the painter and an easel. Gets me,
the tourist on the bus. I do my best,
in honour of the city on the Arno.
The boy’s dark hair, and deep, deep skin
speaks of Africa, His thin legs dangle,
too weak to take the weight his small
life needs to bear. What care he will
receive, I’ll never know – nor whether
poverty, drugs or drink had brought
him low. A refugee unsheltered or
feeble menace to the state?
The bus takes me away
and Mozart whispers in my ears.
And round our city palaces and galleries,
the fortresses of our past and care,
oil-painted waters pluck and pound.