No white-washed confectionary with
Holes and passages for fingers to
Take hold like a dried-out knucklebone
Nor is the mound one of those towns
That cling pulpit-like to the edge of
Cliffs placating the dark sea below.
This is essentially the accumulation of hands
Touching smoothing talking to obdurate stone
To make it fit where desolation should display.
You can read it as an alphabet of eras:
Slim elegant slate sliced clean by mallets
For the silent runners of the archaic dawn
Bold and beautiful but a bit pushy
A bit too outspoken the marble squares
That might have been torsos surfing the next quire
A dangerous balance in the mix of the thing
But suppressed immediately by sober lime
Stone smelling of incense, the velvet of moss.
Layered walls, the base of survival, rise on
This giddy equilibrium with scarcely a touch
Of grout because the builders flout timidity
In favour of a cautious acquisition of reason
That repeats for each new season hope’s age,
The optimism of balance, of fitting in.
So the town rises and swells like a hive
There for each regeneration of fear and love
Acquiring thru rituals the poetry of timid lives.
It wears its castle like a fool’s crown
As tho to show from all perspectives across water
A cornucopia feeding protection down the slide.
Last in the heady acrobatic safely shelved
And shouldered display, tiled roofs blushing
At the sheer deadpan effrontery of survival.
Comes the heavy granite of foreign occupation
The Genoese all pockmarked with the market’s
Itch, Islamic immobility crushing breasts
But with a touch of secret hedonistic
Elegance in the upper floors of painted wood,
Birds’ nests, love nests settled on stone:
To achieve the exquisite improvisation
A smouldering fire of raked-up stone
Held between fingers of blue and blue
The vistas cloved with olives scattered
Little egg shells of towns and everlastingly
The magic light percolating down.
© John Slavin