Down on the plains the air is thick
with dust and shouting.
(Even the animals shout as they are goaded
to where they do not want to go
from where they do not want to be).
All curse and squabble
in an unending struggle
to grasp or share
the little that is left on the plains.
Girls, with flowers in their hair,
shriek at young men for noticing them
(and shriek louder at young men
for not noticing them).

Higher up, the air is clearer
and quieter.
There are olive groves and vineyards,
orchards and, here and there,
a fountain or an ornamental pool.
Cypress trees shade white painted villas
of politicians, film stars
and robber barons.
With shutters to keep out the sun.

Higher again are the mountains,
with their patches of green,
amidst shining white,
thousands of alpine flowers.
And a silence
across which zigzag,
like cracks in the void,
eagles’ cries
and the low, unfinished murmuring
of the “Lordly Ones
who dwell in the hills, in the hollow hills.”

Here are those who wear garlands of fingers
and saints whose bare feet
press the snow.

How is it, then, that you can say,
“It came to mind” or
“It didn’t come to mind.”?

Have you not heard the oracle,
speaking, but not in Time:
“By their fruits shall ye know them.
By their fruits.” ?


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