Sparrows

A group of children, accompanied by their teachers, waits outside Saint Thomas’s church, eating biscuits and chatting. The church is due to open at 4pm, but the huge wooden doors remain locked. The RE teacher, a big man wearing a black shirt, makes a phone call, shrugs, and eventually guides his congregation away from the church, the sound of merriment receding into the dusty afternoon.

Sparrows peck for hope
at Thomas’s sandalled feet:
finding only dust,
they gather its providence
and fly heavenward.

Sulmona

This morning, market day smiles nestle
comfortably in the wrinkled chin of
Montane del Mattone.

Our morning ripens into red summer cherries,
generously ladled by women born
with sun on their faces.

Bitter rich coffee shots, in tiny cups,
are served with grace to travellers
who stumble confused tongues around
language reciprocated with indulgence.

Softened, we succumb to pick,
pluck and purchase a pretty posy –
sweet Sulmona confetti of sugared almond blooms
Bellisimo!

Ti amo

I’m so sorry I can’t be with you tonight
high in an Italian mountain wilderness
sipping red wine from glasses we found
in the dimly lit kitchen where we simmered
al dente spaghetti on a single electric ring
and licked the salt of olives from our hands.

Remember the first time? Holding hands
in the room where you are alone tonight;
warming our hands on the same electric ring
and listening to the sounds of the wilderness
as we enjoyed simple dishes, simmering
spaghetti, impatient and hungry for all we found?

I wonder, when you arrived, whether you found
the bed linen I washed with my hands
in the room next to the spaghetti simmering,
and made up the bed, comfortable for tonight,
safe from the strange mountain wilderness,
comforted by bolognese cooked on that single ring.

It might be some little while before you ring,
an hour’s difference disrupting rhythms, we found,
leaving us each dancing in our own wilderness,
unused to having so much space and time on our hands.
I wonder if you will want to talk much tonight?
after a day in the sun, bed made, spaghetti simmering.

Tomorrow, when you are properly settled, simmering
gently in the warmth of the medieval stones, ring
and we’ll swap stories; perhaps leave it tonight,
giving you time to reflect on whatever you have found,
gemstones and kernels to share, held in your hands
like a prayer in the Italian mountain wilderness.

By now you will be sleeping, unfamiliar wilderness
of Italian dream-scapes shifting and simmering,
heat taking leave of mountain stones, dear hands
perhaps reaching for mine, wanting to be held, ring
me in the morning, and tell me what you found,
but know in your heart, I am with you tonight.

Two dear hands in the wilderness
where tonight dreams are simmering,
ring in the morning, to tell me what you found.