Five new poems from Spain by Fiona Pitt-Kethley
I saw all that was left of his body
the same day that I saw two concrete trees,
brown with lopped branches either side a gate.
I had a certain liking for the fox.
He smiled, seemed midway through a prancing dance,
Vivacity, defiance, even in death.
Not much fur left to grace his skeleton.
Walking the quarry landscapes on my own
I reached a silver plateau in their midst.
Crushed slate and pyrite glittered on the ground.
Mostly it’s empty. No-one passes there,
abandoned, damaged land that’s left unused.
Except one time, dozens of JCBs,
waltzing like Strictly Come Dancing in a ring,
like something from the craziest of dreams,
a group of extras for Transformers films.
A firm was demonstrating diggers for sale.
Next day, all the machines had disappeared,
gone off to do their dances some place else,
or maybe settle to more normal tasks.
Old tailings ponds, contaminated heaps,
have scarred the landscape with their arid waste.
And yet, close up, amongst the cracks you´ll find
some reckless vegetation, pioneers,
waiting to colonise. Amongst these plants
some nurse, encourage other types to grow.
Far from green gardens, far from comfort zones,
lacking in beauty, they make up in character,
slowly reclaiming land, putting down roots.
The projector of Sierra Gorda
Invisible from anywhere below,
a perfect circle like a fairy ring,
hidden from view alongside rocky crags
No roads to it, a tiny path leads up
towards what’s visible, a ruined house.
The wall is higher still, but hidden well
I’ve climbed to it from the ravine below,
where saw palmetto sprouts from blackened soil.
An arsonist destroyed this stretch of woods.
The concrete floor is cracked and full of weeds.
I sat and ate some nuts, resting my feet
within the circle of the old barbette.
The view from there’s remarkable:
the port, or distant villages inland,
refineries below, mountains above.
The tunnel of El Carmoli
A haunted passage from the Civil War
lies amongst other military remains.
The entrance light fades as I round a curve.
Just at this spot I find a geocache
and leave it for another visitor.
There’s something too contrived about this pot
with someone’s “treasures” left beneath the earth.
Treasure’d be welcome, but it’s not my goal.
I seek experiences of a natural kind.
My tiny torches light the way inside.
Passages run off to the left and right.
I hear some footsteps, rustles . . . shine a light . . .
Nothing and no-one in this gloomy space.
Nothing and no-one in the passages.
My rational part tells me it’s from the town.
No-one’s above climbing volcanic paths.
This place is empty, not a bat around.
My other side would like to cut and run
but I move slowly, mustn’t stumble there.
More haste less speed. I make my way outside.