In Cadaqués in June the night air shimmers.
The heat from fish-grills punctuates the street.
And strangers try, not hampered much by language,
to fall in love with everyone they meet.
The coastal rocks that days host naked swimmers
are dangerous at night until the moon
illuminates the places you can cling to.
Soft laughter lets me know my world’s in tune.
The laughter’s hers and mine, until we still it.
Much later, we’re aware it’s getting cold,
but, high on stars, and salt, and us, we tarry
to watch the sun wake from the sea, take hold.
The weather up north’s German (as they say, ‘wetter’).
Dutch polders that aren’t frozen float in rain.
Down here in Spain it’s drier. Warmer. Better.
Though Oslo slows from powdered snow, the pain
of seeing that on TV does not fetter
my feckless glee. Orange blossoms help me gain
perspectives that permit me to endure
my winter where the sea today’s azure.
published in THE ARMCHAIR AESTHETE and in THE OLDING MAN
I think that I’ve been banned from Saint-Galmier.
The horrid rains that washed us down from Beaune
had stopped, but lengthy queues along the motorway
persuaded us to leave it in Lyon.
We cruised the D-routes till the dwindling day
conspired with tiredness and ennui to hone
our interest in hotels marked tranquille.
Saint-Galmier had one, for our ordeal.
The room is white, innocuous, and clean.
It opens on a garden with tall trees.
The pool is in the garden. Yes, we’ve seen.
And will one take one’s dinner here? Yes, please.
Apéritif? A sherry’s peachy keen.
That’s sherry brandy, waiter. Please surcease
insisting that we ordered it. La carte
before the hors again. Think of my heart!
Bad dinners in this country are bad luck
but happen once or twice each twenty years.
Tonight is one such time: the sous chefs pluck
the quail I planned for dinner to its ears
then poach it with the salad in the buck-
et used for chilling wine. The bird appears,
much as its mother knew it, with its head.
I plop it in the bucket, go to bed.
The old son and his mother are sunning
and doing the crossword.
It gives them the distance they need
to have conversations
while reducing the need to have any.
They gratefully don’t.