Allan Lake, originally from Saskatchewan, has lived in Vancouver, Cape Breton, Ibiza, Tasmania & Melbourne. Poetry Collection: Sand in the Sole (Xlibris, 2014). Lake won Lost Tower Publications (UK) Comp 2017 & Melbourne Spoken Word Poetry Fest 2018 & publication in New Philosopher 2020. Chapbook (Ginninderra Press 2020) My Photos of Sicily.
On a hillside overlooking sea,
a serene city of the dead, out of ear-
shot of noisy city, loudly alive.
Half-wild goats on steep slopes can-
not get through the high walls but
you may enter ornate gate from 7am
to 7pm. Relatives speak quietly,
place cut flowers in metal vases
under photos, beside small electric
eternal flames costing euros. Vigil-
antly on guard: concrete angels bearing
crosses, weeping Marys, dying Jesuses,
busts of deceased beloveds.
Carlo, Marianna, Carmela, Gaetano
and a host of others within the four
storey hive containing what remains.
Wealthier families have their mini-
chapel cum final ‘resting’ place with
surname above entrance. No exits.
Just as there’s no exit for poor kids
in centre. Rusted nameless crosses
on central weed-choked rectangle.
Death makes an effort to be socialist
but is thwarted even here. Caretaker,
relieved to have a job for life, sweeps
leaves, puts plastic containers back
beside tanks that provide water for
dead flowers from family gardens
or purchased from busy florist out-
side carpark. Streets here cleaner,
freer of weeds than in bustling city
down beside beach and concrete is
in better shape, farther from surging,
salty sea. Two young men in bright,
trendy clothes stroll with flowers
in one hand and phones in other.
Respect, PAX, filial piety. Minutes
sacrificed when they visit, weep.
Elderly woman scales a wheeled
metal ladder to reach parents half
way to heaven. Regular devotion,
unwitnessed except by birds that
praise from knowing evergreens.
So foreign but moving for me.
I recall Canadian cemeteries
under blanket of snow, maybe
visited once a year or never.
Here it’s love, sunshine and
crucifixes, then coffee with
sweets on the way home.
Poetry in this post: © Allan Lake
Published with the permission of Allan Lake