Rob Lowe has travelled widely, lived in Sicily and Sri Lanka, and is now retired to Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom, where he shares a home with an epidemiologist niece, and writes. His work, over the past five years, has appeared online, in print journals and anthologies, and occasionally as spoken word. It is often political – see publications by Civic Leicester, the RSPB’s “We are a Many-bodied Singing Thing”, Dwell Time 2, and Disability Arts Cymru. Selected journals in which poems appear include a number based in Wales e.g. Lucent Dreaming, Seventh Quarry, Nine Muses Press, and others in England, the USA and the Republic of Ireland.
Trying to look back into yourself,
You travel far from where, once, you were;
Dive into a canvas to look out,
As if the sitter might become paint?
Walk to the far side of a landscape,
Come to the crossway of some village;
Trail the scent of a yellow hedgerow,
Retain it amongst the petrol fumes.
Your face is aged by Vespa patterns
Travelling to and fro at junctions;
But old women’s walks make deeper lines:
They purl the path from home to market.
The retired men are seated pegs
In the sewing-frames of cobbled streets;
They are ripe and silent in the heat.
Though they watch my body’s bobbing gait.
At various times, white buildings cast
Grey shadows onto a baking road,
Where stones which have walked through time stay still,
Limits to eye and understanding:
At Neapolis, upon a hill,
The audience now is spectacle:
As they walk the steps amongst a past,
Seeking not fact, but love and meaning;
Under a weight of ancient history,
Heavier with the proceeding years,
A Greek amphitheatre’s great hand throws
Into the present an oracle
Who is heard. When men are always men,
Or their reflections behave like ghosts
That futures birth from the mirror’s face,
What can be done but pray and listen?
On the hot fields
The fierce men work.
In the hot sun
They burn with need.
In cool houses
Shower their calm
On men’s hot brows.
Light in summer:
Warms the winter
Of Jan. and Feb.
Then in the spring,
(March and April)
Ears flower with
In small churches
Women offer –
They cannot read,
But they suffer.
The heat of love
What I consume
As part of this
Is all my work:
It has no name,
This yielding up.
And in my home,
The former byre,
A Labrador dog
Lies down and pants.
While in the grass
A black snake basks
Near where chili plants
Redden with sun.
Old men outside
The Post Office
Sit on benches.
A sense of loss.
This is my world,
A sort of bliss
Nothing is full
The seas rolling
Towards the land.
Their tides have borne
An old Sicilian proverb fiercely claims
That, if you plant no grey-leaved Olive Trees,
A life spent in labour is worth nothing.
Well, here are olive trees, and carob, too.
And, nearby, in the neighbouring plots,
Of farmers living off their red-hued land,
Are grapes, tomatoes, various citrus fruits:
Diamante Citron, big as your fists,
From which Cedro Allo Zucchero is made;
And prickly pears, set next to Chilli plants.
Or, unexpectedly, pink, scented roses
Grow from the warm and chestnut-coloured soil
(This covers the white chalk and limestone rock
From which the island’s tableland is formed).
Goats look at home behind low dry-stone walls
Laid in a local fashion by old men
Whose arms gleam strongly in the August sun:
They labour slowly as their homeland’s history.
So thus, this Sicily risen from the sea
Makes slight the myths of Aphrodite:
It is more beautiful than they,
Inviting you to come and be
Within your chosen place of stay
A calmer, deeper human being.
To all of this, Safrala grants a key:
A modern villa in an ancient land
Set one mile from the dunes and sea
In countryside; small towns at hand –
Pozzallo, Scicli, Modica, Ragusa
Can offer hospitality and histories,
Are used to Northern strangers passing by,
And will create for you good memories,
If you should come, to rest and contemplate.
Poetry in this post: © Rob Lowe
Published with the permission of Rob Lowe