Carol Muske-Dukes

quick-take

The biggest risk I ever took was a trip to Italy – where I met my late husband, David Coleman Dukes. I had just been awarded a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship to work on a new book of poems and I rented a house outside Florence with the Guggenheim funds – and made plans to travel there with my boyfriend at the time. But we broke up just before the trip and I agonized about traveling, living and writing alone. As it turned out, my friend, the poet Jorie Graham was in Italy at the same time and invited me to visit her at her parents’ castle (yes, a real castle) in Umbria. “Come for a while and ride down with a friend of my brother’s, an actor,” she said. (“The actor” was David – who played a diplomat and Ali MacGraw’s fiance in The Winds of War.) I wasn’t keen on spending time with an actor – I didn’t think that poets and actors would “mix” well. But I followed up and met David in the lobby of his hotel in Florence – and the rest is the closest I’ve come to a fairy tale in my life. If I had been afraid to travel to Italy alone – or if I’d acted on my silly bias re actors – if I hadn’t taken either “risk” – I’d have never met David – or fallen in love in Tuscany. I’d have never driven from Florence to Umbria with him, past the fields blue with the wine harvest, with Vivaldi on tape, to a spectacular castle, Torregentile, set among silvery-leaved olive trees — I would not have married David nor would my beautiful daughter Annie exist. I took the risk. Did it pay off? I’d say so.

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