the task

Why did you set yourself the task of pushing the rock up the slope I asked.

He turned to look at me and released his grasp. The stone slid on the grass, picked up speed and sped past.

He frowned and blinked fast and set off down the hill again.

You’re not the first to ask, he said, and you won’t be the last.

Piazza Mazzini

The benches in the new square are made of old marble. Children trace their fingers across eroded inscriptions and call out random letters and words. Cars double circle the square, prayers for a parking space unheard at this hour.

The yellow dog in the blackest shade of the trees lifts its head as if to question life, shakes its ears loose and lays down again, one rear paw twitching. It does not move when the rain starts; it knows its place is dry. Parents grasp children and run through the lines of cars, pressing their backs against the walls and windows of shops, sheltering below the mock-baroque balconies.

As street vendors circle the square with hastily procured umbrellas, the rain suddenly stops. Pavements steam and waiters wipe tables. The dog lifts its head again. 

Lecce, 19 September 2021

Running early morning

  • The sun is up.
  • The runner is running.
  • The cat is clawing open the plastic rubbish bag on the pavement.
  • The runner claps and calls out.
  • The cat darts into the road.
  • The motorcyclist swerves to avoid the cat.
  • The runner jumps onto the pavement to avoid the motorcyclist.
  • The runner slips on the fishguts the cat had been rummaging through.
  • The runner sits with a thump in a puddle of fishguts.
  • The cat licks a paw and walks away.
  • The cat does not look back.

Silkie

Silkie outgrew the pond.

Once again, under cover both of night and of the tarpaulin over the wheelbarrow, we bumped him down to the sloping sand.

Clouds opened the sky and a grey head appeared in the black mirror waves.

Silkie swam towards the moon, not looking back this time.