A few days into a three-week vacation, on a train with friends returning from a day-trip to Florence to the house we were sharing in Chianti, having seen Michelangelo’s David, eaten a fine lunch with wine, we were laughing and talking amongst our selves, when an American woman sitting close-by said, “Obviously, you haven’t heard the news.” It was September 11, 2001.
When I went to bed that night, after frantic phone calls home and hours of watching TV coverage in Italian, I longed for words of solace that might usher me into sleep. My husband had been killed just three years before; I had already lost faith in a benign world. I longed to whisper familiar words, but could recollect little of what I knew and loved. Lines by an ancient anonymous poet became my mantra:
Western wind, when will thou blow,
The small rain down can…
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