The Crystal Glass of Memory

cobbles19 May 2016

The bay blew too choppy
to row, their plan,
to rent sculls, put on hold.
They would instead trek
the cobbled isle,
until the wind died.

The steep uneven scape
kept them alert.  Stumbling
on cobbles would kneecap them
in a flash.  And with much
to observe, their concentration
would be compromised:  White-washed

houses, now in shadow, now sun,
the eye-watering bright
sun of the south, through which
one saw, with equal parts,
glare and clarity.  To look
on shadow was a relief.

Narrow wound the serpentine
lanes across which faced
blankly the whitewashed facades,
though kohl round a window,
here and there, mascaraed
some houses’ eyes.

An old Apollonian man
stuttered past with a cane
on the shadow side of the lane,
his bewhiskered chin moving
with words he spoke to himself.
He appeared a prayer saying itself.

Always toward sky
the rowers climbed,
sky at the top
of every lane they took,
sky of a blue-washed clarity
no speck of a bird dared mar.

Down one white wall face
bougainvillea drooped,
petals of it dripping
like tears of fire onto
the back of a midnight
black cat curled asleep, midday,

beneath it, tears of fire
flaming on his coat,
then blowing into the lane,
splashing fire, wildly, here and there.
A youth passed in silence in the sun,
his handsome mouth etched in a smile.

Climbed the rowers higher until
the bald hill stood exposed
above the houses.  In the distance,
a church stood pointing to the sky,
all the earth around it
scoured by the wind.

Behind them, the sea,
to which the rowers turned,
the thick purple glass of it
cracking with whitecaps.
The wind was not done
with its work of mischief.

Below them, the bay mused,
while their sculls waited
to be thought forward into rowing.
There, still, the wind
played its game of havoc,
the die loaded in its favor.

Before them, memory,
the memory of the moment being,
and being made,
the crystal glass of which,
years from where they stood,
would shatter when flung on the water

of forgetfulness.

Philip Kuepper
(29 April 2016)

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