Praise sirocco again
despite all the tiredness it brings
when the sea is an open throat
and perspiration streams
and the waves’ arms grind swarms.
When it comes, this haze like blinding ash,
it settles at once, the slow thick surf
spreading and sinking the heart.
Hear the burying desire of the desert
and the heat’s gaze, the loitering in eyes
of bottomless pomegranate seeds.
Remember the tall skinny dogs
standing up slowly and walking along
and lying back down, whole bodies stretched
on the broken stones of the pavement
of a Sicilian island street, in the heat
of the noon sun and the strip
of an ink shadow of a yellow wall
where chinks and cracks reminded
of simple exhaustion and eternity.
There we bought rolls of rice and anchovies
while sirocco was blowing its huge
Africa, the multifarious wings
brought to earth, in scratching
blades of light, delivered
by the ever pregnant sea.
I wrote this poem about ten years ago with in mind my visit to Lampedusa in the summer 1986. It's a place of hope and tragedy for many people from Africa now. How different in the '80's :the only person with a black skin I saw there was an American soldier from the US base stationed on the island.