On our recent tour sponsored by the Romantics
the Swiss mountains snubbed us, withheld 
their resplendence in mist. The locals cursed 
us in one language, invited us into their novelty 
shops in another. Cabinet maker, knife 
sharpener. Byron’s name in the fourth

pillar of Chateau de Chillion or some wise-guy’s
joke. Klaus’ house was four-hundred years, bubbled 
plaster and frigid. Lumpy bed, jars of marmalade 
on the staircase, and her Germanized English. Such 
bored politeness, standing in wet bath towels listening 

to her test the vowels. We didn’t stay long, skirted 
the Swiss Riviera, the casino, and central 
statue of Frank Zappa. Smoke on 
the water. We were so dramatic then, 
dashing from village to village along 

the jeweled lake. The panoramic train 
chugged through landscapes fit for hot chocolate
commercials. Cows among gold and lavender-
dabbled slopes, wooden A-frames. Middle-aged 
couples in sneakers, with camcorders, and gushing on 

cue, and us making out in first class. We mounted
the stairs to the Madonna del Sasso grotto in
Locarno. Bone coolness of the sanctuary, a nun
reciting Hail Mary’s in Italian. Life-sized
wood stations of the cross—Jesus

behind bars, his watchful face. The cabbie hat 
you lifted from a bench, and later lost. His sorrow-
sunken face. How the sin of the moment
has become remote, embarrassing, nothing but dwarfed 
pretenses. How we loved ourselves for no reason then.
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