All I have is the wind
The wind’s susurration in the abandoned streets, the distant hiss and drag of shingle on the beach are all I have. The long dry fountain in the square hosts no bird, no lizard. Through the drowse days, shadows limp from the sun through my clean laneways, beneath my delicate arches.
Still sleeping, a touch lifts my thoughts above the doze; recognition trembles, hovers but slips away into the daze.
The breeze fades until the moon pursues softer shadows. A steady, breathing sea lulls me, the fleeting touch a phantasm of loneliness. The drowse draws pictures of my people … filled houses … busy streets … children skylarking on the beach, watching boats return … screeching gulls plunging onto fallen fish.
Unbidden, memory surfaces.
Carnival Day. Floats stream ribbons and brittle laughter, parade through thronging streets. Children dare, dart beneath, to dodge the rolling wheels, their mothers’ warning cries in their ignoring ears. But the mothers screeched in youthful abandon when they scrambled below those same carts. And mothers’ mothers before them. Fathers, smiles fixed at the bravado, mask their fear in shouted encouragement. All are there – fisher folk, baker, blacksmith, young and old, the loyal, the unthinking, the rebellious. All paint their faces with the joy this celebration demands. Floats gather in the square at sunset, reeling in all the citizens, their hopes fish netted in my mesh. Old folks watch. Slack faces shield their fear of yet another year. In the darkness, cafes disgorge whirling patrons. Light and wine splash stone, wash the gutters. The various musics jar, spur on the whirling, captured dancers until each drops senseless to the cobbles. Bloodied feet twitch to stillness as the tainted rapture fades. Waves extinguish the moon. In the deep, dark silence, I watch the square empty into the byways. Heads down, unseeing and unseen, they trudge the too well known pathways home. In the drains, memories mingle with the bloody wine. So many filled years, so many empty ones that followed.
Why did they abandon me, their home?
The hills birth the sun to warm brick, dry stained stone, leaving a fog of other days and this day and the next and next. Winter rains wash the square, flush the drains to the roiling surge and suck of a gale-driven sea. Moon chases sun, chases moon, chases clouds.
The itch returns, stronger, no dreamt illusion. It exudes a clouded, tainted flavour filled with tension.
I essay a tentative call: an innocent tendril reaching, searching.
Again, a firmer stalk and … contact.
I know it … but the flavour has subtle changes. Yet it cannot hear … or ignores my call.
Torpor falls away. In uncounted years, I fully wake and send a command veiled in greeting. This time, it hears and sends a garbled response, tinged with fear and anger. But underneath is curiosity: it wants to know: my baited hook.
Using long-clouded senses, I search. The road from the hills reveals a speck rippling in the heat. Then it is gone.
Memories of that last mad day immobilise me before I smash them down. I call a gentle invitation: an image of the fountain’s sparkling water, cool shade and rest for weary feet.
For days and nights, I search, listen, call and find only sea, wind and hills of lonely rock. Time stretches and returns the drowse of memories. That different taste becomes another phantasm amongst the thousand, thousand from the past. I slide beneath the memories, less than half aware. Sea, sky, wind and water are the only change.
But it returns, sitting atop the ridge. I feel it scan my streets and square, seeking comprehension, refusing to engage.
Does it ignore or refuse to understand my sweetest entreaties?
Through the night it sits. I send images of the good life waiting in my houses and streets, the joy of community, of shared purpose.
It rises with the dawn, stares one last time across my streets and lopes away. It leaves a parting taste: contempt, abhorrence, denial, relief at the escape.
And I am bereft, once more waiting for their return.