Today we are staining 
the fence a deep shade
of cedar, since the contractor
told us the three month period
of curing is over. What they mean
by curing is that the planks
of new-cut wood have been
left awhile to the elements,
have hardened a little more
after being left like that
by themselves. Soft
traces of green around the grain
have started to darken in spots:
meaning they've tasted equal
lashings of heat and rain,
plummeting cold, blue-
black wind. It's almost peaceful,
following the rhythm with each
pass of the roller and the brush.
But cure is also, in Medieval Latin,
curare—responsibility for souls; or
the restoration of the body to health.
No one in the world as of tonight
knows how to heal the sick,
the dying, the dead stacked in fields
for mass burial. One by one,
quarantined towns empty and citizens
retreat into isolation. In Lobpuri,
where tourists no longer come, bands
of monkeys have been seen fighting over
a scrap of food in the square.
But in Siena, one night the townspeople
open their windows and as if on accord,
begin singing "Canto della Verbena.”

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