Invincible Summer |||

Writing on stone

Pens are too light.
Take a chisel to write.

Every birth a crime,
every sentence life.

Poet appointed dare not decline
to walk among the bogus, nothing to authenticate
the mission imposed

Reading “Briggflatts” at Peralta, perched in the foothills between the Garfagnana and the Tyrrhenian. A good place for slow reading: no distractions but the flood of early-morning birdsong through the valley below, the whine of power tools through the day. And Bunting has been around here too.

It tastes good, garlic and salt in it,
with the half-sweet white wine of Orvieto
on scanty grass under great trees
where the ramparts cuddle Lucca.

It sounds right, spoken on the ridge
between marine olives and hillside
blue figs, under the breeze fresh
with pollen of Apennine sage.

It feels soft, weed thick in the cave
and the smooth wet riddance of Antonietta’s
bathing suit, mouth ajar for
submarine Amalfitan kisses.

It looks well on the page, but never
well enough. Something is lost
when wind, sun, sea, upbraid
justly an unconvinced deserter.

White marble stained like a urinal
cleft in Apuan Alps,
always trickling, apt to the saw. Ice and wedge
split it or well-measured cordite shots,
while paraffin pistons rap, saws rip
and clamour is clad in stillness:
clouds echo marble middens, sugar-white,
that cumber the road stones travel
to list the names of the dead.
There is a lot of Italy in churchyards,
sea on the left, the Garfagnana
over the wall, la Cisa flaking
to hillside fiddlers above Parma,
melancholy, swift,
with light bow blanching the dance.

Excerpts from “Briggflatts” in Collected Poems by Basil Bunting

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