Secret Bakery In Florence, 1 A.M.
Four of us walk a cobbled alley,
pipes on the walls, green graffiti,
shimmering lights on iron sconces.
Walt leads. Black coat, flat cap,
semester student of Florence,
knows the city like he planned it
himself. He's shown us the Duomo,
the Firenze-Roma football match,
and now, a secret bakery.
We stop at a sliding glass door,
misted green, the window above
cracked open. Smell of chocolate,
caramelized sugar, baking pastries.
I hear footsteps. A figure passes
the misted glass, a dark ripple. Then
the creak and rush of faucet water.
Walt knocks and steps back, hands
withdrawn to his pockets. The water
quiets. It's illegal for them to sell,
he says, except to Florentine cafes.
Footsteps again, and the opaque
figure appears behind the door.
That's why they're secret, he says.
The glass slides, and a man stares out,
t-shirt, apron, paper hat. He looks
between us. Quanti? he asks. Walt says
Quattro, spreads four fingers. The man
nods, slides the door. A minute later,
he returns, hands Walt a wax paper bag.
We each pay a euro coin, and the man
slips them into his apron pocket.
Walt opens the bag, we reach inside.
My fingers brush warm crust, and I
pull a croissant, drizzled over with
steaming chocolate that burns my
finger. I lick it off, smile, bite the
pastry's corner. It's Nutella, I say.
Everyone laughs, tastes their own,
and a lightness fills the air,
like the fluffy rise of croissants
in secret bakery ovens.