The candles of Sant’Agata

Alan Bern

Sometimes at night, some nights, wake me to silence, its thrum is invitation to walk head held up but looking down, too, onto cobblestones, per forza dewdamp, warm in the latenight still of stillnight before the cold erosion of before-dawn, coming upon the many whiteshirts who lean together, even threes.

Head-to-head-to-head-to-head, the fours holding shoulders in a walking line never slower, swaying cannot be slower, walking without this terrible momentum, unforgiving forward stops then againagainagainagainagainagain sway is motion speaking.

Never walked in such sleepiness, warm this Catanian winter middlenight, no rain forecast for the Festa di Sant’Agata. Predict the future obstacles, nevermind just walk, the way of the funeral cart down dangerous streets. Meet it, redefining slow pulled by these hundred-and-more whiteshirts ropes through their arms, arms link arms, face to see the cart coming behind. A near crawl a swaying to stay inching forward, the goal already met just ahead, also perfect in the side-to-side walk without distance, no different than standing an endless ending.

BIO: Retired librarian Alan Bern is a photographer with awards for his poems and stories; he is also a performer.

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