Court of the Lions

After fifty years to revisit the Alhambra and witness
the same water spewing from the lion’s maw:
I remember wearing a silver short-sleeved shirt
adorned with dragons, and for the first time,

on the airport runway, hearing the night alive
with the cicadas’ tiny anvils. This time, the metal plate
screwed to my femur vibrates to their call, my heart
to the murmur of marble, the patter of water.


By some cosmic quirk the disconnected phone
unleashed a scarlet squeal. – I pounced.
Before the apology expired I asked and got
the wrong number the voice had tried,

so for a whole year without a single bill
I owned those magic digits to dispense
– only for incoming not outgoing calls
but a tiny lifeline to the ancient flat

in via Torquato Tasso I shared with the din
of Cerberus barking in the courtyard – forget the rat –
and a crack the earthquake left in the vaulted ceiling.

Thirty years on, in the small dark hours,
I reach for the black Bakelite receiver
to hear the music of Venus receding.

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