Poem: Montecassino

9 November 2021
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Roman theatre crouches in the mount’s looming shadow:
It has stood the test of time.
If only the same could be said for Cassino.
The abbey stands aloft on the great mountain;
I never would have believed its youth.

A shrapnel town, each utility box of a building standing precipitously on the blasted stone terraces
That once supported their ancestors.
The houses limber up the steep slopes, trying frantically to reach the top.
Their movement is frantic,
like the array of the men that defended that place.

The men whose names are inscribed on limestone epitaphs
Just a few metres from the booming autostrada,
In a field that deserves more peace than it has.
They say they shall not grow old; yet
There is more of the Roman town than the original Cassino.

In my aimless wandering away from the cemetery
I am bombarded with solicitudes.
Yet I am astonished to discover the river that gushes keenly through the Cassino of today;
Its clear blue waters sparkle, caught against emerald thorns of hydrilla.
I wince as I dip my hand into the river; it comes straight from the mountain;
The Italian high summer never felt so cold.
The water is as verdant as nature itself;
Nature heals all. If only all could heal nature.