I Am Francis – Reed Rvenrick

Yes, I’m Francis wandering spring fields
and blossoming orange groves—not Italy
this time ‘round the existential merry-
go-round, but reincarnated, as some
say, here on a peninsula of similar

shape, if smaller size, but still reminding
of the sun-lit miracle beheld in this life
of sub-tropical light and trees and Saint
Augustine’s grass, and even the trick
of how my eyes perceive leaves called green

and orange fruit beyond my reckoning;
yes, all a mystery to me, as I walk bold
and barefoot through the dewy spider webs
and weeds and pepper grass down rows
of trees they call Valencia oranges back

In Assisi, Umbria and a few ripe lemons
on corners to balance acid globes that spin.
Now carrying my laptop under arm, opening
to YouTube to bring up a video for the flock
of robins I see landed on this grassy field

between the lake and here on the edge
of the orange grove, where I sit down and
settle, turning up the sound of a robin
chirping and singing—as loud as J Lo,
out on the Rican islands, would sing, so

I sit in the stilling silence of the cushy,
spring grass as the 22, 23, 24 robins,
I count, flitter left and right, but mostly
stay to forage on ground as robins,
among songbirds, like to do—they,

hearing my Youtube, hopping closer
among the lavender of violets that show
this time of year—two dozen robins
and even more to where I rest on grass
between and betwixt the evergreen shade

of a bushy orange tree, and the sun still
fresh with morning but still warms my skin,
since the February air still chills this spring
In Florida with early fog, as the robins
hop closer, and flitter about me, curious about

the robin singing all out from my computer, and
since I do not move an inch, the red-breasted
robins turn their curious beaks near my feet
and hop closer and closer in curiosity. “Robins
of spring,” I whisper, I do not know if

these orange trees and this sloping field
of spring grass is a chemical accident of form,
color, texture, atoms—how can I know if
the gods did not select this delight of orange
blossoms in February to balance the strife

that this society suffers through every season,
this crazy give-and-take life of living, but this morning,
while I overlook this Florida lake, this early spring
is by any definition a revelation, be it perceived
in English or Italian, as I wander on through

the blossoming groves of Central Florida—
I am Francis of winter’s haven, not yet a saint.

Reed Venrick lives on his orange grove farm in Central Florida, USA, and formerly studied Italian at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia, in Italy, French at the Alliance Francaise in Paris, and taught English for a year in Saudi Arabia, where he first read the books of T.E. Lawrence.

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