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An Umbrian man

Hes never seen a snake
In all his four score years
Of pruning vines and olive trees,
Watering artichokes, spotting
Wild asparagus and mushrooms,
Gathering firewood, seeking
Truffles, he never,
So he says, in all his days,
Has seen a snake.

The vintage turned out well.
Demi-johns of garnet red
Gleam from dusty corners.
The early mist clears quickly
To baking heat outside the cellar door
Where lizards bask and scuttle.
Could it be? The wine speaks. Only poppies
And chicory twine among the grass.

by Damaris West

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