|Fernando Pessoa (Lisbon poet, 1888-1935)
— Fernando Pessoa
I live in my wife's hometown of Albacete, a small provincial capital in the region of central Spain known as La Mancha, in the middle of Don Quijote country. The name comes from the Arabic al basit, meaning flatlands. And that about summarizes it: a rather nondescript modern city, with little in the way of the charming old quarters, monuments and buildings associated with most of the country's other historic provincial capitals. No complaints; it is a comfortable easygoing place to raise our daughters, and we have been living quite well here since transplanting ourselves many years ago from Madrid, which is around 150 miles away.
Ah, Madrid, I could go on and on (and probably will). Together with New York, it is the city that best defines me, and generously hosted a long happy stretch of my life. María and I met in Madrid and still spend much time there, prowling museums, parks, plazas and restaurants, always happy to revisit the many years we lived there. But today I wanted to introduce you, briefly, to a village called El Griego, around 35miles south of Albacete. A hamlet, really, with no more than a dozen homes nestled in la sierra, the hills, amongst pine trees, almond and olive groves. We had a house built there ten years ago and it is my preferred spot in the world for long hikes, barbecues, star gazing, mountain biking and luxuriously long lunches and endless wine-doused evening conversations with our good friends there.
|Yours truly, biking in El Griego last winter
I know the tangy scent of orange peels
released into the cradling mist as bells.
I learn how distant a lover’s echo feels
as I call down the bottomless old well.
A secret roams the ancient olive grove
and whistles absence in the morning wind.
As rainclouds gather strands that songbirds wove,
alone, I sing off-key of love untwined.
No fruit in my song, no water down the well;
only the whispery wings of a turtledove
disturb some leaves and stir the pungent knell
to join the matin carillon above.
No ringing peal to mark my passing times,
today is only tolled by citrus chimes.
© Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow
Brian Miller, Leslie Moon and Peter Marshall have started a new blog called One Stop Poetry. One of their featured activities is One Shot Wednesday, a place where poets can meet and share their poems. Visit them to see other poems linked to the site this week.
The Pessoa quote is from The Book of Disquiet (published by Serpent's Tail, 1991, translated by Margaret Jull Costa)
Gratitude: Thanks to Ruth at synch-ro-ni-zing for your kind help and input on this poem
Bashful disclaimer: There really are turtledoves at our house in the sierra. After all, who but a fevered romantic could put one into a poem like this if there were not?