Within that early, Portuguese, morning light, the stranger roamed about the Roman ruins, amid the shattered columns, gardens, and baths—all crushed by barbarous hordes in 458 . . . And later, at the crowded railway station, he learned about the vicious transit strike—and how they'd stranded everyone, young and old, and stopped the country dead in its tracks.

Beneath the burning skies and blazing sun,
making my way, ten miles north, to Coimbra,
I walked beside an aged woman in black,
who had, without complaint, embraced her fate.
"Never succumb." She gently whispered and warned,
slowly passing the lightly tinted fields,
"My son, in Beira, lost all he had—
but all we've lost are hours in the mid-day sun."

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 9 Number 1, on page 54
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