As always, time sieves a myth from the facts:
the city — a pith spilled from the karst —
has been pushed back into the yellow haze
despite the ships’ urgent nuzzle at its quayside
as if to leave room for the farmer cutting terraces
from the bay’s blue potential, a shepherd
checking for rain: all of parish life and industry
flowing up and to the left against the frame.
Over there, the local rag’s society hack
focuses on a celebrity shaking hands
coaxing a raffle with a megaphone
watchful for someone important.
A school band, tuned awry like their uniforms,
trombone flaring over sausage-smoky booths
between which adolescents fumble, still half drawn
to the dodge-ems; for the third time, parents wander
past the jams and doilies, the obeisant lavender,
encyclopaedias and airport thrillers parked like veterans
in the sun, brochures on weed control
blown to the perimeter. A recruiter hands out air force caps.
A group of young men tests their harness,
anxious to be off; kit creaks and chafes
against the pulpy air; momentarily they feel
their silly age, ostentatiously check the gauges.
One falls from the sky; the others pass from our art
as from our sight; old men in leather jackets chat,
barely interrupted by the squadron’s shadow
passing over the oval.
Cordite, February 2018