View from the Mountain
From here the sea
seems calm as the folds
in a renaissance rendering
of Mary’s robes. And if you turn
to the west, the hills resemble
the turtles you saw huddled in the sun
at a pond in the Palermo gardens. The trees
are bonsai––intimate though distant,
their forms surveyable. The train tracks
and tunnels recall childhood afternoons.
You could almost bend down and
lift the valley chapel with your hands.
Its bells quietly toll. Counting six strokes,
you wonder if the quality of time
is dependent on the timekeeper.
The snaking cars are silent.
You only hear (despite the contrails)
the squealing of swifts and a breeze
through the bushes. When you sit on a stone
among wild flowers in mid-bloom,
the mosaic in Monreale comes to mind,
of God on the seventh day
seated at the centre of his garden,
how his surroundings seemed real
yet internal to his mind.
View from the Shore
Over the darkening water
the distant mountains are simplified
to magenta silhouettes––erasing all trace
of apartment blocks constructed in the sixties and
the growling motorway that tunnels through the limestone;
they’re almost immaterial, a watercolour landscape.
Behind them is a realm of light,
enigmatic as portrayals of a golden age
in the distant past or future, outside time.
An arc of clouds hovers around the illumined air––
a mosaic of six-winged seraphs with feathers of flame
guarding a cathedral entrance. Only our eyes
cross into that realm. Over small waves
that turn and break their darkened glass
on the shore, a gull departs.
What about the chestnut tree in the cemetery,
replete with foliage, erecting
countless steeples of blossoms––
each consisting of images
that capture the essence in a couple of strokes,
a dash of red or yellow on white––
and the perfect fragments
blown to the grass?
Does anyone else
come here to see them,
the displays of this artist
unknown even to herself?