Many thanks to the people who've written to ask if we're ok. We are fine here in Rome, and feeling very grateful for that.
I wrote about the days we spent in L'Aquila back in the fall, when we visited with Mark Strand, who was there to receive a prize sponsored by the town. As part of this prize, the poet is asked to speak to high school students, and to prisoners, in addition to giving a reading in a more traditional setting. We met so many lovely people who were not just amazingly kind and generous to us, but who consistently showed us the great love that they have for their beautiful city.
You've seen the pictures. There are people who've lost everything. Last death toll: 179. My heart and prayers go out to them.
We were watching the news this morning and it's looking like we have Italy's version of Bush & Brownie, and even the initials are the same: Berlusconi & Bertolaso. It was alarming that one of the experts couldn't comment on the water situation in the area; it's maybe even more alarming that they've been experiencing serious shocks there for the past three (or six, depending on who was speaking) months. And there have been warnings, and ...
There was a big aftershock here last night, but nothing in comparison to the first night, which just went on and on and shook the bed and rattled the doors and -- we are, what, 120 kilometers from L'Aquila. When it starting shaking again last night, I said, Oh God, if we have this, what's going on in L'Aquila? 4.8 or 5.0, depending on whom you ask.
Keep the good folks of Abruzzo in your prayers. And maybe some of those convents and monasteries standing mostly empty these days can be put to some good use, while they start to rebuild.