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FROM A BALCONY (poem) - Sarah Howe - United Kingdom/China - Poetry International
 
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From a balcony
The sun is an orange from the Peloponnese
staining clouds and stuccoed walls,
 
sailboats tacking out to sea.
Damson shapes chase light from under vines;
 
shadows grope their way,
thick arabesques of lace furrowed at the frame.
 
Hills are a smoke-stained fresco flaking,
rooftops shrill as pomegranate seeds.
 
Poplars are the spears of long-dead warriors
sprouted from a rill of dragon’s teeth.
 
Rising from that faded terracotta dome
come the curling throaty notes
 
of evening mass below, swelling in
and out of polyphony like a weaver’s skilful woof
 
their path the disappearing smoke
dragged from a censer’s golden arc.
 
Far across this dim intaglio
a white cat pads along a cooling lintel stone.
 
Only the distant thrum of a scooter
navigating narrow roads.