The heat is second-hand, burns back from stone.
Arcades dark as skulls’ eyes.
Too hot to hold your hand,
besides, why risk it here?
We tread across the square to find a cafe
pick our way through a tangle of wrought iron
I hold them back like brambles for you to pass
We sit, the only women, our flesh heavy.
Pigeons strut around old canon balls
palm tree shadows waver, uncertain camouflage.
A toddler chases a pigeon that can hardly be
Shriek, flurry, and stop. Shriek, flurry, and stop.
Swift groups of men finger small packages
as a policeman watches in a corner
his braids white.
The cafe table is scarred
and you’re crying because the tortilla is a cold slab
left over from last night.
From Magma No. 27 (Autumn 2003)