The Bicycle Thief by Mary di Michele

If I could go back to my birthplace, Lanciano,
wander all day up and down the corso,
stop by the cathedral built on the ruins
of a Roman prison and pray,
if I could
make my way at night by the glimmering
of my brief candle, and if I could see
into the darkness and find my father,
if he were still living
 there in Lanciano.
Strangely it seems it was just yesterday
that I returned from Lanciano feeling
despondent because if I were pure
spirit I could have gone back
 in time too
(traversed the years along with the miles),
and so have seen my father before
the world war, seen the boy my father was
before his father betrayed
a bare-foot son
and sold his bicycle. If I call him
by his true name, Vincenzo, not Vincent,
will he recall then his life in Italian,
through eyes still clear,
through hopes undimmed?
If I were sharper, or indeed purer
I might yet see that boy in the old man
in stocking feet at the nursing home
in Toronto, my father who
                                                no longer knows
his life or his daughter in any language.
When at last he rises from his wheelchair,
when he leaves this earth to return to
earth, he too will go back
                                           to Lanciano,
to the cathedral on the corso,
where he will find his bicycle among
the stolen years of his life, and ride it,
not towards the future, but into
 the past.