The First Long, Dark Night After The Earthquake

A dry hot month to beat the records
was passing its torch to the newspapers
when the earthquake struck early Wednesday,
causing untold damage and ceaseless unhappiness
as the tremors continue throughout the night,
one rumble after another. At first the meteorologists
reporting declining heights of lakes and rivers
were the stars of summer in their sleeveless dresses.
But this is the very moment a body is pulled from the rubble:
“It’s a boy,” says Luca, a volunteer the same age as the victim.
There are diapers for the youngest, and milk for breakfast,
but many are still missing. Nobody can get any sleep
while the coffins are loaded into ambulances and taken
to a collection center. “Silence, silence!” a firefighter calls
to the many journalists who have made their way to this small town.
They need quiet in the hope that they’ll hear some small cry.
Sitting nearby, struggling with hiccups, “I’m a teacher with no school left,”
says Maria Teresa. Only then does a lone man wrapped in quilts
decide to leave the pallet where he’s curled up and taken refuge
alone to cry. “They just took my wife away.” No one in Amatrice,
Italy or the surrounding ghost villages can fathom the future
in the face of seismic events.