Coffee, Gelati and Savonarola – Richard Knott

Coffee, Gelati and Savonarola

Sirens in the night: ambulances on heat it seems, and so, for us, 
a troubled sleep, and awake too early, sheet-tangled, to a 
morning scoured clean, pale blue sky beyond our open window.

Oh, how I miss the smell of a foreign city in the morning.
In Spain or Italy by choice, and early, before the sun is high –
an inquisitive stroll through subdued, shadowed alleyways.

That morning we walked, alert to the sound of women’s voices 
spilling from balconies draped with flowers, then into a cloistered
yard; at its heart, a fresco, faded blood dripping on a wooden cross.

Savonarola’s cell had me trying to recall A level history from long ago,
Some sort of ‘religious martyr’ maybe…?  The rest eluded me.  Instead –
coffee, a dark Florentine brew, in a bar metres from where he burned.

Red wine for lunch and a walk in the Bardini Gardens, 
quietly forgotten, it seemed, on this other side of the river.  Below us,
the white stone of Florence, its shadows; then, blue, distant mountains.

Wisteria artfully insinuated itself through a pergola and there were
hydrangeas at every turn.  Time for gelati, sitting on a sun-lit bench.  The
afternoon drifted before it was time to leave Bardini’s tranquil peace.

Across the river, the harsh rasp of scooters, the cut and thrust of children playing,
a busker’s guitar and raw, echoing voice, foot-weary tourists, and the city’s
leitmotif –  wailing sirens: the city’s police or ambulance crews – the afternoon shift.

Richard Knott