The Sun Dial


Our potted approach, by uneven kerbs of stones,
to a solitude, this sun-aligned home:

It took a thousand paces to measure the olive grove,
stepped, metres-squared, hectares, in Ostuni,

at a surveyor’s pace across rock-tilled soil,
along the perimeter and back to the starting point,

where the building is rooted between trees,
the house, the grove’s only fixed shade-maker,

where shadows are not altered, not by leaf growth,
not by bough collapse, not by plough,

but constructed, like the conceit of time,
over God’s rough footings, instead, now telling the false hour

by the drawn-line’s shady cower: And, as if to throw more doubt
on His creation, they even command the water:

a blue rectangle of fifty lengths, measured out in wave slaps,
off an English breast stroke, as an echo, the puffs of breaths.

The coal-black dog hunts down lucertole,
those too-quick-Italian-for-lizards,

hid under unearthed rocks, those rotor-turned,
their blank faces bleached, but not sunburnt.


 

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