Via Ferrata

The word boulevard and the word 
avenida each conjure a different city
in Europe. When I was a girl, my father
said I should aim to see as many parts
of the world as I could, when I grew up:
its great libraries, for instance; the grand
bazaars and turquoise oceans, the marble
columns and great aqueducts we were taught
belonged to a time called the beginning of
civilization. After I finished college, I added
my own items to this list: I wanted to see
in the poet's room in Amherst, the white dress
with pin-tucked pleats and mother-of-pearl
buttons that Emily Dickinson wore; lay
a flower at the monument in the Warsaw
Church where Chopin's heart was buried, after
being pickled in a jar of alcohol and smuggled
across the border. Had we but world
enough and time
, wrote Marvell; but now
the world seems on the brink of annihilating
itself, and the only places of refuge left
are those that seem impossible to get to.
In the aeries of Meteora, ancient monasteries balance
on the very edge of sandstone ridges. In the past,
monks used an elaborate system to lift worshippers
and supplies from villages below. They raised
the chains and pulleys in times of danger, waiting
like the cliffs for the winds of trouble to pass.

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