June, Provence



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.