Luciana Croci is a Newcastle-based poet and writer, whose work is published in Animal Encounters (Catchfire Press 2012), Australian Novascapes, Speculative Fiction Anthology (Invisible Elephant Press 2016), Poetry Collaboration, (Meuse Press,2018,2019,2020) and The Blue Nib Literary Magazine (Issue 41). She has a background in languages (Latin, French, Italian, German and Japanese).
Old mountains leach calcium like old bones,
sandstone crumbles into tunnelled ravines
the bora hollers down and ravishes.
Underground torrents twist out caves and tat
lace chandeliers, dripping limewater loop by loop.
This is the Karst, Trieste’s backbone.
On the front–side the blue, welcome Adriatic
wears away sea walls and shipyards. Poised between them,
Trieste withstands the weathering. It emerges from the gulf
like a seal after a journey, shakes itself off and sits sunning
on the Molo Audace. The sea seeps into its heart under Ponte Rosso,
reaches far enough to bathe St Anthony Church’s feet.
Trieste was built to stun: fin-de-siecle buildings,
commodious quays where genteel folk promenaded,
coat-tails and skirt hems swishing, flashed lacquer-handled
walking-sticks and parasols, toasted a liner’s ceremonial launch.
On summer nights carriages flowed to the opera,
past flower sellers and glittering mirror-lined cafes.
Under the Ponte Rosso market boats rock cradles of mussels,
whiting, sole, bream, silver trophies won before dawn.
On shore stalls are weighed down by baskets of fat cherries,
trays of first-cut radicchio, jade zucchini, purple aubergine.
Cafes steam warm odours of sausages and sauerkraut,
schnitzel and gnocchi, traditional potato-cabbage-bean soup.
The Roman amphitheatre sprawls defenceless in the sun.
The Venetian stronghold long vanished, conflicts of popes
and emperors resolved, freed from Napoleon’s clutches
and liberated from Habsburgs, San Giusto,
in his old cathedral
dozes over sleepy Citta Vecchia.
French and Austrians return as tourists, bathe
and sail at sunny Barcola and admire Miramare,
where poor Maximilian never lived.
Although the shipyards are defunct, the port
is prosperous, hosting tankers of oil for Europe
and regattas for wealthy sailors.
A city of long, lost histories,
Trieste, a memory in your heart.
Uncertain etymology – from mugiens –
bellowing – as the sea bellows
in winter, whipped by the bora,
katabatic from the Karst.
In summer there is no bellowing.
The sea gleams along the lungomare,
as sailboats skitter impatient for the breeze,
and fishing boats lie supine in the port.
The castle dons its secret
Protector’s smile, while the Duomo
basks at peace with the cardsharps
and drinkers in the Piazza.
Port, cathedral, castle, seen a thousand times
in a thousand places – it’s Muggia’s name
my father heard in waves’ undertow
on this side of the world.
My father’s memories are not mine –
I remember the sleight of hand of red carnations
and footpaths, rose-petalled paved,
some summer Sunday.
always remembered the sea
Poetry in this post: © Luciana Croci
Published with the permission of Luciana Croci