Saturday, April 9, 2022

Above Pontone, Where the Tourists Disappeared

Ravello in the clouds,
As Goat Island rose before it
                  in a nest of smoke
And the blue cloud assault
         on rising pink
                  from Rooster Island
That held the sky so quiet
      but was too fragile to stay.

Milk Mountain and the Teeth of God
Surround the pearl of the Mediterranean,
                    the mermaid lands,
Nativity towns built into the sides
                    of the mountains,
A rock Madonna holding flowers
       then the De Chirico town
Where one boy chases a pigeon
                    with a magic wand
And another kicks a ball down cobblestone.

Goats in Scala
        across the fjord from Ravello,
Two unchanging villages
        in harmonious dispute,
To make the wind blow
Melodically down the coast,
     where sun lights on
                    the money white
Eyes that long to look past all despair.

The only thing rusted is the steel.
The buildings as straight as the cliffs
Tick their antique stains away
In quiet contemplation 
            above deafening ears.
The last gray wisp of mist
     goes above the highest arch
Of the Carmelite mission
     where they contemplate in silence
              the silent, endless sea,
The world below much less than a theory,
      more than a dream.

From black clouds the white towns
                                    open up
      to the sun's seductions.
These breakers, like the history, 
                      can't ascend here --
What takes place above
      exists in abstentia.

The Gods still light the lamps of eyes
Every day around this time
With a kind of awe
      befitting sheer cliff faces
When Helios brings them to life.
The lemons on the ledges
              take on a holy sheen
      of an even icier divinity.
The mist imbues the higher rocks,
The further coast, as sunlight
Brings the present place to something
Almost real, like a mythical painting 
       what is seen,
And, because it is seen, trusted.

But the crags in black and cloud in gray
       remind us of the mercies
We rely on to put footsteps on the ground,
       even as the clots above
                  seem to peel away the sky
To travel with the clouds
                  to a far-off place
That doesn't lack essential mystery.

How quickly do the rocks turn black,
                    the trees go dark,
      the birds veer eerily,
How wide the sky
      that allows no entrance --
Clouds with no mercy
As we bless all we see.