A Gentle Surprise

Gabriel Laderman (Florence)

Sono anni che ti stavo cercando

I shook a man’s hand today
not overbearing

A gentle surprise

He once tried to steal my first love
I knew he would still be near
postponed our meeting years ago
he looked much uglier then
a panzer-like nose
eyes of fire
reeked of decaying flesh

I had to see my first love once more though
it was time when time says
and I knew the price
age softens one’s point of view

A gentle surprise

She still lived in his shadow
but not as dark and foreboding
eyes of window glass
a renaissance reflection
cathedral shaped face
cheeks rolled like hills

I enjoyed a final glass of wine with my love
kissed her gently
visited old friends who sleep outside her gates
And extended my hand

A gentle surprise

Finalmente ci siamo incontrati


23 thoughts on “A Gentle Surprise

  1. i searched for years and finally we met…ah henry this is lovely…florence is on my “cities-i-would-love-to-visit list” i so can feel this…i drank wine with rome and kissed her until i got lost on her lips and everything else tasted shallow….aaaaahhhh

  2. Laurie Kolp says:

    Henry- Beautiful… touching.

    I love:

    eyes of window glass
    a renaissance reflection
    cathedral shaped face
    cheeks rolled like hills


    it was time when time says

  3. oh …
    the duomo, the streets …smells, …art, …food, ….history… I felt dizzy in her embrace…

    it was time when time says

    hopefully, one day i will return.

  4. My own love affair with Florence began many years ago – and one look at that painting brought back all the warm fond feelings again. I think this poem is an exceptional piece of writing, with many layers of human experience packed between the lines. One of my favourites of yours.

  5. hedgewitch says:

    A beautiful rendering of time and its workings, as well as the heart and its wisdom. The last stanza is full of light, like the painting.

  6. Thanks for all the comments, but I think I really missed it this time. I wrote a poem about a man going back to Florence to die and shake the hand of death that tried to kill him earlier in life. Actually an old soldier. There are graveyards where allied soldiers were burried outside of Florence. I imagined a soldier would fall in love with the city even during time of war. And while death was ugly and brutal as a younger man, became a “gentle surprise” and more welcoming the older he got and knew they had to meet. The first and last sentences translate to, “I have been searching for you for years” and “FInally we have met” speaking of death. He could only find peace in dying knowing he would lay with his comrads outside the city he loved. As tragic as death is to a young man, it’s not as scary to a very elderly person who already had cheated it atleast once. I tried to write the poem in the style Mr. Laderman painted. He captured the same thing I saw when I visited, an architecture of history. Laderman was all about relationships, so i created one with the city and one w/ death. I’ll have to re-work this, but I think I did create the “feel” I wanted, and that is good.
    Thank you again for the wonderful comments. I apolgoze if It confused anybody. I appreciate your support and encouragement.

  7. Hindsight is 20/20, and I can see your poem clearly through the lens of your comment. Before reading your comment I did get the sense of an older man visiting his love, Florence. One or two well placed details will no doubt get it to the place you want. I do like the feel of the poem.

  8. I felt the theme of death on the first read through but doubted myself reading the comments until your last. Beautifully written and paced it reads even better second and third time through. You didn’t skip a beat.

  9. Henry, you are absolutely talented…. This poem just swept me away in its undercurrent of something, but it was off of my tongue. I got the flavor that your lover was the city, and I felt there was something else that I was missing so I google-translated the Itlaian phrases and discovered their meanings, but that didn’t really clear it up for me. then I saw your comment above and it all smacked me like a windmill that I stood tilting at a little too closely…. I am not nearly a talented poet and have no standing to say this, but my style tends to be a little less subtle. So if it is not too foreboding allow me to suggest this: a simple change of two words….. “I shook the Reaper’s hand today….” Incredibly lovely poem even without the intended meaning….. Poetry often does that and the reader’s emotions and memories are always what colors it the brightest….. lovely poem…..

  10. Henry, thank you so much for leaving a link to this poem at my blog. I love when poets do that.

    This is lovely, gracious – so gracious. Time heals many wounds, but time also reveals so much about ourselves and those we love or once loved. The handshake starting the poem was like the handshake that begins a relationship – then you learn the “relationship” was long ago… I was very touched by this. Thanks so much, Amy

  11. I don’t know if you have already made any adjustments. With my first read, I thought of a man facing death, looking her in the eyes, and pausing their connection until years later. Then when feeling more at ease, was able to greet her more gracefully.

    Then I read a few comments and doubted my interpretation, went back and reread, saw the couple that could not be. Then I read your more in-depth comment of where you were trying to take this piece. I think sometimes, it is not in the write itself, or the little details we throw in or leave to be found between the lines… Sometimes, looking deeply at an image, people just see different things. When an image is posted on a meme, how many different takes do we writers find all from the same prompt?

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