Almost Mugged in Lucca

Lucille Lang Day

It was the day I hiked all the way
around the city, the same day we saw
the Tomb of Ilaria, who married the Lord
of Lucca when she was twenty-four,
in 1405, and died two years later
after the birth of her second child.

Her marble sarcophagus, fit
for a pharaoh, has cherubs around
the base and a sculpture of Ilaria
sleeping on top in an elegant gown
and a hat with flowers, a little dog
curled at her feet, her nose worn down

by generations of young women
who rubbed it for luck in love. Luck?
We’d just had dinner at Locanda
di Bucco—gazpacho, shrimp
with rice, beef ravioli—and walked
a few blocks to see the oval plaza

that had once been a Roman
amphitheater, when three men, young,
large, emerged from the shadows
and came toward us. They followed
us to a closed store where we stopped
to admire purses in the window.

Quiet as owls listening for mice,
they surrounded us. “I don’t like this,”
I said. We headed quickly to the next
block, where people were strolling
and a police car was parked, as the men
disappeared into a pocket of the night.



Lucille Lang Day, ( has published ten poetry collections and chapbooks, including Becoming an Ancestor and Dreaming of Sunflowers: Museum Poems (Blue Light Poetry Prize). She is also coeditor of the anthology Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California, as well as the author of two children’s books, Chain Letter and The Rainbow Zoo, and a memoir, Married at Fourteen. Her books have received two PEN Oakland—Josephine Miles Literary Awards, and her poems, stories, and essays, which have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, have received nine Pushcart nominations. She is the founder and director of Scarlet Tanager Books, which will publish Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California in October 2018.

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