All the roads in the village unite at the fountain.
Avenue of Liberty, Avenue of the Acacia Trees—
The fountain rises at the center of the plaza;
on sunny days, rainbows in the piss of the cherub.
In summer, couples sit at the pool’s edge.
There’s room in the pool for many reflections—
the plaza’s nearly empty, the acacia trees don’t get this far.
And the Avenue of Liberty is barren and austere; its image
doesn’t crowd the water.
Interspersed with the couples, mothers with their younger children.
Here’s where they come to talk to one another, maybe
meet a young man, see if there’s anything left of their beauty.
When they look down, it’s a sad moment: the water isn’t encouraging.
The husbands are off working, but by some miracle
all the amorous young men are always free—
they sit at the edge of the fountain, splashing their sweethearts
with fountain water.
Around the fountain, there are clusters of metal tables.
This is where you sit when you’re old,
beyond the intensities of the fountain.
The fountain is for the young, who still want to look at themselves.
Or for the mothers, who need to keep their children diverted.
In good weather, a few old people linger at the tables.
Life is simple now: one day cognac, one day coffee and a cigarette.
To the couples, it’s clear who’s on the outskirts of life, who’s at the center.
The children cry, they sometimes fight over toys.
But the water’s there, to remind the mothers that they love these children,
that for them to drown would be terrible.
The mothers are tired constantly, the children are always fighting,
the husbands at work or angry. No young man comes.
The couples are like an image from some faraway time, an echo coming
very faint from the mountains.
They’re alone at the fountain, in a dark well.
They’ve been exiled by the world of hope,
which is the world of action,
but the world of thought hasn’t as yet opened to them.
When it does, everything will change.
Darkness is falling, the plaza empties.
The first leaves of autumn litter the fountain.
The roads don’t gather here anymore;
the fountain sends them away, back into the hills they came from.
Avenue of Broken Faith, Avenue of Disappointment,
Avenue of the Acacia Trees, of Olive Trees,
the wind filling with silver leaves,
Avenue of Lost Time, Avenue of Liberty that ends in stone,
not at the field’s edge but at the foot of the mountain.