Saturday, February 4, 2012

“Except for the oranges” © Mike
Absalom January 8th 2012

You read my words and text me
afterwards from that far off Eden
where the early sunlight,
already incandescent with fragrance,
trails an impudent finger across jacaranda and tamarisk
and makes the morning air shudder
with repressed delight.
I can smell fresh bread
and taste the morning coffee
on your lips.
And yet, you say you would
like to come here.

In an ancient town
where the stones are hewn
into cathedrals
and brash mausoleums loudly trumpet
the gaudy history of your race
you comment on my green
wetland of pre-history.
And still you say you would
like to come here?

It is still pre-history here you
know, for nothing moves about but cattle
and the stealthy land raids
of herdsmen who plot in their outhouses
how to filch another inch of
land from their neighbour.
And the slow abrasive
grindstone of the weather and inherited thought
glaciate the landscape down to
uneventful grass and bog
and small farmer’s gossip.
Yet, you would like to come

Away from that exuberant land of Gaudi
and from the pillared Toledo halls?
From that Alhambra which echoed with the bright wisdom
of long-banished philosophers
and the cries of thinkers
beaten to death with a blunt
crucifix and burned alive
amidst the incense of orange blossom and jasmine and olive,
and all things moving and
alive, and terrible and delightful,
your hot-blooded paradoxical land of Goya, land of Velasquez,
land of Franco
and the Inquisition, Torquemada and oranges!
You would like to come here?

The swallows visit you there
each year.
I have seen them go,
chattering on the high wire
like drunken tourists in a Costa Brava bar.
Why do they return to scrag bog
and reedbeds?
And all for a throne of mud
in the barn and a mouthful of midges?
Well, I suppose they know
that we have had everything that you have had.
Except for the oranges!

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