Bryan R. Monte
Italian Village Wants Migrants Back

is the newspaper story’s headline
about a village at Rome’s latitude,
but on the opposite coast,
where old, cracked church bells
clank tinnily through thin mountain air,
and the villagers, who petitioned
to have migrants removed
before they’d even met them,
now want them back.

Tourists drive straight through
this place in just a few minutes
on their way to the Adriatic,
the surrounding towns emptying out,
centuries-old, earth-tone exteriors
shuttered, boarded up, then abandoned.
Nothing here except a post office
a city hall, two churches,
a war plaque and a soldier’s statute
next to a fountain in the square,
and two main streets named after
the general and the king who united Italy.

These villagers realized too late
that after decades they finally had
enough hands to work the fields,
enough players for a football team
enough voices for a village choir
and enough bums on benches to fill both
a Catholic mass and a Baptist service
to keep the church bells ringing.
So now, they are petitioning again—
and praying—to get their migrants back.