Chi rompe paga . . .
By Michael Todd Steffen
Strange to notice a thing
a moment before it happens
but too late to stop it
as though you’d seen it before,
on the other side of the world
in language being translated,
You break it you pay for it . . .
on the little sign in the boutique
reaching for a postcard with Beatrice—
your sleeve snagging some trinket
you’d never buy. It falls
from your reach to the floor
making the sound of glass.
Dio mio utters the madonna
behind the cash register
where you protest your innocence.
Then with a turn of cheek comply, asking for
a plastic bag to go with the rest
of the proverb you’ve remembered—
e i cocci sono suoi,
leaning over to gather them up.
The pieces are yours.
What you carry
away each time is something
of yourself, having meant it
or not, to be put back together.
Now it rests on a shelf with books,
a little blue tea saucer, the glued
fracture lines making it nearly genuine.
Copyright © 2021 by Michael Todd Steffen.