Martin Malone


The room chooses itself: a writer's space
with a balcony above the harbour,
two chairs, table and a tortured old bed.
Its provenance comes later, as she pours
us Lachrimae Christi and talk turns
to the buena séra under a sky of early stars.

I forget why we came here – your sister
perhaps – but here we are in Forio
on Boxing Day in Capote's old room
at the Pensione de Lustro; both town
and coincidences as intimate
and satisfying as one's own heartbeat.

Islands are like ships at permanent anchor,
no place for the rush of hours; the dropped watch
an outrageous bit of symbolism to prove
his point. Crossing the tiles, I see Truman
on the balcony as the Virgin comes to town;
forgetting to throw his votive ribbons.

In forty-nine, Signora Mussolini still sat
out her quiet exile in shabby black
and the town's two idiots claimed their island
in the afternoon's white midnight.
Maria watered her drinks, Gioconda awaited
a letter and her spring was the longest ever.

The longest and the loveliest.

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