Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Italian Poem No 1.

Afternoon in Venice


You promised me Italy-
the dream of bumble bees,
the hazy loaves of Tuscan hills
and colonnaded shadows deep with wine;
Steep streets with red checked tables cut to stand
where no chair ever could;
Pale shutters faded to the shade of autumn grass;
Light, iridescent glinting sparkling twinkling
in the long rays of the pale autumn sun;
Pale frescoes
faded to the pink of autumn skies;
walls of ripe apricot and sanguine orange,
crumbling ochre and the pale red bricks:
the flesh of Italy beneath its plaster skin;
Cool streets of small cafes and purple shadows
and the smell of bread warm from the oven
and of shining fish scales in the afternoon;
The sacred goldfinch in a window cage
sings of the Passion to the patient pheasant
who awaits his sacrifice upon a faience dish
decked with the fleur de lys;
The Ancient Roman shop-front,
and inside, the fashion of today, this minute,
never seen again:-
the shoes, the bags, the scarves, the gloves, the style;
the cars, the motorbikes, the leather jackets;
and the taps that will not turn, the drains that block,
the creaking lift and trains that do not go.
The singing countryside,
the hilltop town with bells to wake each morning;
and the nightingale
among the orange trees
to penetrate the stillness of the night
with essence of a long past Tuscany
where man and wife,
now smiling on their tomb in cool display of their commitment,
once clung with lust,
once sank, longing and deep
into each other's souls of desire:
their sighs are wind in pine trees,
the sudden rain that falls upon the earth,
their procreation and the dust
that lies across the bonnet of the hired car
was once child of their love, long turned to earth
and now part of the richness and the sacrament
of this enchanted feast,
the bread and wine,
the broken meat,
the olives and the fish.

And how I long to eat this feast,
and walk on hills whereon my feet
crush pungent oregano as I go,
and tiny strawberry plants
show trefoil leaves
beneath the holm oaks:
and the Trinity,
God of all wonder and all sacrifice,
God of all inspiration and all life
is there for all to see,
vision of colour and geometry
deep in the magic painted recess of a crazzled wall.
Part of my soul, my self, is in that land.
My spirit soars to fill the vaults and domes
of smoky sensuous darkness
and gold light of candles. 
My spirit rises like the bells on drafts of air
up from the swaying towers,
and sings with painted angels,
tier upon tier
in perfect cacophony
vermilion, green and lapis lazuli.
My spirit hangs suspended like the cross
between the pointed arches of the sky above
and marble floor beneath.
It burns with the brightness of the sacred lamp,
red as a pomegranate, in the sanctuary.
The Virgin smiles for me.
The Child forever lifts his hand for my atonement.
I am one with them:
A stranger in that place,
and yet belonging by adoption.

You promised Italy,
my place of dreams,
my church of golden singing
and rich banquet of the senses.
Take me there,
to satisfy my dreams
and hone the edge
of my appreciation
and my appetite for more.

©    Tamsyn Taylor  

1 comment:

  1. ....... but instead of going to Italy, we went to Port Macquarie........