Over the last year Caroline Maldonado’s poems have been accepted by Envoi, Urthona, Long Poem Magazine, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review and Tears in the Fence.
Publications include her pamphlet What they say in Avenale, (Indigo Dreams publishing 2014) and a co-translation with Allen Prowle of poems by the southern Italian poet, Rocco Scotellaro, Your call keeps us awake (Smokestack Books 2013). Her reviews have appeared in London Grip, Tears in the Fence and Modern Poetry in Translation. Caroline Maldonado lives in the UK and Italy.
Flies fret and squabble on the window pane!
Feral cats stroll past my door after
tit-bits or company or a sip from the water
I always leave them in a pan under the vine.
Across the sky the drama of buzzard and crow
plays out again. Today it’s the crows that win
and the buzzard departs. Who knows, next time?
– the crow guarding her nest has most to lose.
Meanwhile the carrion crow takes a turn with an eye
on my neighbour’s chicks; doves head off to confess
in the woods; a harlequin bee-eater sashays
on gusts of wind and redstarts, bluetits and finches
forage and feast and hurry about their business
as if it were their world and I an observer, merely!
My lawn needs mowing, but leaving it for now
I step through clover, daisies and celandine
abundant under the olive. I’ll let grow
the wild mint and fennel and when it’s time
tear the leaves for seasoning into a pan
for my evening meal. Until then, my eyes
will dine on poppies and the hoopoe’s fan,
its open crest spread wide, shooing flies,
and on the swallow, bee-eater and turtle dove
who have hills as backdrop, sky as runway.
But how last night that sky roared and cracked,
spat hail and smashed gravel from the road above!
Or were those lacerations far away,
the clash of votes counted, a country hacked?
Slashed branches lie heaped in bunches on the ground.
Their leaves will be sun-dried to feed the lambs
but now, to me, they resemble funerary mounds.
‘This big it was,’ he says and parts his hands,
‘when I was ten – a metre wide or more.
Each year we’d put a basket in its fork,
with nylon for cover, filled with hay to store
apples throughout the year.’ The mulberry’s trunk
is ridged and dessicated like baked earth;
the stumps, sawed to the collar, dusty, hollow;
they bleed sap. The branches were snapped by storms
and, without hard-pruning, others would have gone.
Now the wounds will heal and scar tissue
form, and a dormant bud prepare for birth.
Again, sleepless at dawn, seated by my pot
of basil I look out to sea, but no longer
recognise the view. All the familiar
landmarks are gone, the world altered overnight,
the solid relationship between land
and sky askew. I went to bed in foothills
of a mountain chain and woke up on an island;
the mists are waves and all the other hills
an archipelago. Slowly, slowly the mists
dry off: the scene below is known to me now,
the oak clumps, Loreto’s dome, homesteads,
and in the new light I observe how
cruelly the sea’s fine substance can harden
from liquid to a bar of hammered platinum.
Poetry in this post: © Caroline Maldonado
Published with the permission of Caroline Maldonado