stars and doves

I don’t have many more shooting stars poems to post on the blog, but there are other things being celebrated this weekend, as well as the perseids.

It’s been several years since I’ve spent August in Spain, as I’ve attended the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, both as participant and as course leader, since I first won a place some years ago.

Before that, though, I was living in Madrid, and August was important en mi barrio for la fiesta de la Paloma. This year, Monday 15th August will be a fiesta nacional (la Asunción de la Virgen), and in her honour I have dug out this old poem. It was first published in the New Entertainer, I think, when I was writing my Capital Letters column:

La Paloma, 2003

The street thermometer reads forty-six.
I multiply by nine, divide by five
add thirty-two and know
it’s hot.

I glow genteelly, feel the dye leach
from my espadrilles. The market
is a concrete cave that smells
of yeast and mint.

Cheese sweats under fluorescent glare, and hams
drip fat. The grocer pours spiked ‘lemonade’
at ten a.m. in honour
of the Virgin.

Yesterday we bought the corner shop’s
last bag of ice. Milk sours unopened
in the fridge; this morning’s loaf
crumbles to dust.

The cat spread-eagles on the marble floor.
I can’t face food, but coffee mugs
and glasses line up in a triple row
beside the sink.

Women in kerchiefs and carnations,
sleeves puffed and laced, skirts hobbled
at the knee, unfurl and ripple
plastic fans.

Dandies strut in caps and dogtooth waistcoats
or turn on patent leather, mechanical,
expressionless as figures
on a music box.

The full moon shines, sunlike, through
my bedroom window as I pray
tomorrow’s fireworks
may bring rain.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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