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15. New room
Time stops, and it lasts while the room opens, hesitates,
content with its emptiness.
Coolly contemplates, and remains
in itself, an animal, nestled in dust.

On the wallpaper a smear of hair
above the pale patch where a chair
blocked the sun. There must be
nail parings and wisps of hair, wiped
or wafted in cracks in the floor.

But every step outside is trod
on the dust of bones and dried blood,
hidden below sidewalk cosmetics.
And these planks also are dead life
that bear me at home, if the room permits.

Then, the miracle of the small, a pebble on the floor, compact, all by itself.
Smoothed, polished in endless rolls,
rollicks and clicks in seas of time.

Reminder of a vision, as a child: a marble of glass held up to the light,
seeing all wonders, through stained
glass windows, doors of perception.

And time resumes its pulse. The wind sweeps a branch, squeaking across the
single pane in the roof, which gives
onto the sky, and rattles the tiles.
14. Montreux
Bulging men, in blocked trousers and braces, and ladies ornate with intricate spectacles,
heave themselves down from the coach
and waddle into the Excelsior.

Tracing the steps of more distinguished generations, of Russians and British
before the first war, and settle to sigh
under cherubs and laurels, plastered.

Click of chandeliers, in the dining room, where the furniture, condescending, reflects
itself, in guilded mirrors with patches of
condensation, wincing in hurt dignity.

After dinner, I descend to the pool. A breeze of water, soft to the skin.
Heartbeat in tune with the ripple.
My splashes echo in cavernous space.

Traverse across a field of carpeted flowers, along a staircase that winds
around a lift, caged, with servants
going down, up to my suite, which

creaks with luxury, only the piping complains, a lame chair that leans to the desk.
At the window the night deepens across
the lake, and France lies totally in the dark.
13. No rocket science
A fluttering heave, an easy glide,                                    joyriding gravity.
Weave a line in the wind, dotted with tweets,
a musical score, to carry the notes
that rise and fall.

Who knows where birds go, what errand, and why, and how do they know?
No less than people do, in their stumbling,
their more clumsy heaving and falling.
Perhaps they are smarter.

The buzzards hang high on their thermic boost, always in pairs,
more loyal than men, apart together,
they spy their prey, with binocular sight,
and dive like a rocket,

a bomb with a beak, they cut up the sky. No rocket science
is needed for them, to trace their trail,
and aim at the hare, too slow to flee,
the shadow that falls.
12. The words have a ball
Now let them come, the words, no matter from where, spilling out.

To trot to the rhythm of rhyme, and hop in alliterative lift.

Gambol, dance and march in their finery, billowing robes.

Clouds of universals that on collision collapse, in a line-up of particulars.

Fall into place, to collude, to breed, to wean complexity.

Break the games into a novel play. Dressing down

to dress anew, in novel travesties of truth.

Bold in the ball of raucous coupling in the trip of trimeters.
11. Stanzas of stone (San Gimignano, torre grosso)

Greystone but rosy in the sun that sets
across the slopes.

Tower of compact lines of masonry
stacked in stanzas.

Letter blocks hewn from buried rock
in neighbouring hills.

Fissures slash the face. Read, between the lines,
the crumbling mortar.

Tremble at the thought
of a tremble.

But a gap that fell now provides a niche
for a dove to breed,

and a tenacious sprig, a tuft of thyme that
clings to its crack.



10. On the canal
Perched on a branch in the shady folds of a chestnut tree, two pigeons pick their love, wrapped up,
twine their beaks, and ruffle downy chests.

The lyrics of a blackbird, calling to its distant mate. The water ripples, reflects the twitter of sparrows.
A pair of swans plies a wave, dancing the ducks.

Through the baluster of the balcony, out from the dark, the cat looks on, crouches, balances its flanks to
pounce, trembles its whiskers, in silent mutter.

Jolted by the bellow of a barge, the swans flap erect, honk, take off, stretched into projectiles, rending space.
Set off a flock of starlings that wheels away, scares even the gulls.

The cat recoils, tucks in her head, compact, shoulders high, stripes banded together, ears laid flat, looks aside for escape.
The canal settles down, recovers its idyllic guise.


9. Sunday in Gouda
The advent of the day is tolled by the bells, chasing the steeples, cowing the birds to swallow their call.

Behind skips the trill of the carillon. Dies out, and nature resumes its course, the birds their tremulous song.

Time to get up, not the usual tug to let in the day, but a revelatory draw to light up and lift.

The sunlight splashes the tiles, glitters the stiles, caresses a cat in reflection, silvers its whiskers. 

The faithful walk in droves to the church, in a huddle, skulked in hats and bonnets they tip to each other.

Turtled in collars, they peer out and wrinkle their faces, in sight of a youthful mob, bundled for the beach.