You studied Italian for this trip
though languages weren't your thing
and you never got to make the trip,
as things worked out, the cancer
as efficient as you were. Methodical,
how you'd pump your way
through the phrasebook: Mi scusi
(for attention or apology), permesso
(when squeezing past someone).
The r's Midwestern. You'd sooner
shed your top at a nude beach
than roll an r. Fa bel tempo
in Chianti this morning, perfect
weather, a warm breeze
stirring the silvery olive leaves.
Last night we heard raspy breaths
under our window: a wild boar
snuffling in the moonlight.
You'd have laughed and translated:
Il cinghiale respira.
David Corcoran is a science editor at the New York Times and has been writing poetry for three years, mostly in workshops at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y, where he just completed Marie Ponsot's year-long Poetry Thesis course. "To Ruth" is his first published poem. He lives in northern New Jersey.