Even the few here who regard themselves as aliens
Declare with their window boxes that they' re not ungrateful
For the happenstance of being alive,
That they're just as responsive to the balmy June air
As old Mrs. Ford on the street of my childhood,
Whose window boxes made everyone pause in wonder.

In her loneliness after her husband died
She would have left St. Louis, my mother said,
And moved to her daughter's house in Chicago
If it weren't for her brother downtown in the Asylum;
And still she deemed her flowers worth the effort.

Asylum, that was the word back then,
As if the residents down on Arsenal Street
Had fled there from persecution, a platoon of Dantes
Come to Ravenna, city of colored mosaics
And gem-like flowers, after Florence disowned them.