Le Detenu

William Lantry

The wind comes up. All seems unusual:
their strange habits of boules
and jackhammers, cranes
and red tile roofs. When
their hills burn, they send immense
red planes to sea.

I watch them fill their caverns
with salt. Or two of them
standing beneath willows. Candles
knifing from foreign branches
blaze two weeks.

I watch terns weave
their own patterns above
the Mistral waves. Halfway north
they hang on the wind,
waiting. But the sea
will keep its seasons.

I echo the learned words
from wave torn stones.
How much of what we carry
is our own? Turning north
various wings still trace
the windblown prints.
Thunderous engines still
bear their cargo of salt
to disrobed hills.

Here, each cliff makes a dark
headstone in the maquis smoke
when the habitual wind rises.
On the leveled terrain
old men pause to repeat
a few eroded words.
With my back to the hills
I try to bend my gaze
over the curving horizon
of the renewable sea.

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