The road is tasselled with vineyards and vine-stalks
green as springtime, the sweat of olive and pear
soak my t-shirt through, and starlings fly in flocks.
The famed friction between mistral and midsummer
has yet to arrive, but blood irrigates the soil
of this tourist’s Eden. A slow-burning haze
warps far-off Luberon, and the lofty windmill,
with blades long as the old law or sunrays,
built to grind out cereal or barley, stands
like a milestone on the hot ridge. My twenty-fourth
summer. I might grow to love this sultry province,
birthplace of troubadours, its cypresses staring north
like a Van Gogh nocturne, the mimosa’s natal wince
at my touch, the bulk of fate forcing my hands.
Such barefaced sentimentality has little place
in the world, yet even the small farmhands here
show a care to the groves that money won’t replace.
Earth-scarring winds whisper loudly to the lavender,
and the bullfrogs’ snarl is chronic as clockwork.
It is June: the beer tastes frothy and calm,
the last peach harvest is over, gates with electric
bolts lie open, dry palls of dust rise like the fine atom
of a genie, and the ruby hover of a dragonfly
specifies the hour when the shutters on the upstairs
window slam their displeasure at my tenancy
of the villa in rippled wind, jolting me unawares.
I am a failure who has had his taste of triumph
in that sun-drunk sky, this aged pasture of wheat,
the swimming pool’s blue shimmer, a late-blooming nymph
unripe for flight, in boneless recoil from the heat.