The Tyrrhenian Sea was bouncing off to the right
as we headed south down the coast,
and to the left rose the Apennine mountains,
some with their faces quarried away,
from where heavy blocks of white marble
had been cut and carried down
and stacked in rows in yards along the highway.
Is anyone hiding within? I wondered,
as we passed a little Fiat
and were passed in turn by a green Lamborghini,
hiding the way Pinocchio hid inside a log—
maybe a David who goes by another name,
or an anonymous girl caught dancing,
or any other figure encased and yet to be revealed.
Are you in there, Dawn with your sunburst halo,
concealed from the freshly sharpened chisel?
How about you, Spirit of Revolution
waving a flag of marble
and crushing the serpent of Tyranny with one foot?
Or is nobody home, no one barely breathing
in the heavy darkness of the pure white stone?
Soon, we were standing on a wide beach
where the body of Shelley had floated ashore,
and where all those questions washed away—
though later I pictured a sculptor wandering
among the blocks, hands clasped behind his back,
then deciding it was time to get to work
on a towering likeness of his favorite English poet.