Eighteen years ago my cousin Arthur
   died alone in a hotel
         in Perugia,

and thus was my contact with the old world gone
   as his ashes scattered
         on the west wind.

I must visit him one more time so we can
   resurrect the past,
         the look of my mother

in a white dress, how she caught my father’s dark eyes
   when he came, a stranger, to break
         bread at her house.

We are two old men in the Hotel Violetta
   late at night, each inventing
         a life he can live with.

Always Arthur’s litany of regrets: how Federico
   implored him, “Come to Santiago,”
         how Arthur turned

it over in his mind and finally declined.
   “Philip,” he says, “I could have
         entered poetry

as a crushed cat, a lost boy, a needle
   singing in the vague forehead
         of a dying bull.”