> Abandoned

Abandoned

By | 2018-01-19T22:31:18+00:00 22 juillet 2012|Categories: Blog|

 

Enrique loo­king up the gul­ley
at us lur­ching down towards him :
sha­dows across the bud­ding moon.

With arms loo­ped and twis­ted like lia­nas
he wields the long-hand­led bill­hook
and hacks away at bru­sh­wood.

Blade-tip tea­sing the eve­ning star
he bundles up the whip­py broom
the gorse and dan­gled snat­ching briar

to clean the path for way­fa­rers
pas­sing on their way to town
or pau­sing in the dark hut

among crop-eared dogs and thir­teen cats
to drink a glass of good wine
or lis­ten to his egg-shell voice

sing sier­ra songs as he strums the lute.
“Put your ruck­sack down,” he says.
“Don’t mind the pep­pers drying there.
 
“This mor­ning I woke up ear­ly”
– tem­pra­no, but he says trem­pa­no –
“and went for fire­wood – but I couldn’t

the path so over­grown with rain”.
His one tooth twink­ling in the half-light
he slings a log at the cats

encir­cling our feline aller­gies
so they ske­daddle brie­fly and
then come cree­ping back

while he talks on, tug­ging a stranger’s jacket
“Corduroy – that’s good, cor­du­roy
wears and wears” – stro­king his sha­pe­less trou­sers.

How old is he ? seven­ty ? eigh­ty ? nine­ty ?
He has worn well, still light of frame
able to scramble up the gorge

and down to town, eve­ry ten days
– he counts the dates – and get a shave,
rub­bing grey stubble, face tur­ned to the hill.

“Go that way while there’s still light,
cross the brook and keep on right
through the oaks and to the clea­ring

where you go down to Pampaneira.”
And so we part – his hand is warm and firm –
and scramble on, his words kee­ning over us

like a hawk’s cry : I had asked was he alone
and he had nod­ded : all the crofts are aban­do­ned now –
aba­no­nao – the word bereft of conso­nants

trails after his cra­ck­ly laugh
from pine to pine and crag to crag
down to the dar­ke­ning pool.

 

Alpujarra, Spain