MOUNTAIN VIEW


Some time after midnight, when the bars have closed,

the hoots and laughter of revellers

on the stone-clad stairs wakes us. Much later

wind, billowing through the open corridors

of the steel framed building, shakes our door

intermittently like some errant soul.

In the shallow valley below the hotel

a cock crows above the gusts and the rattles.

 

***

 

In the morning a warm west wind blows

over the sea from what was Carthage.

The valley slopes gradually to a cove.

Before tourism this was wilderness –

only the tideless waves on the gritty beach.

Now there are a score or so of sun loungers,

two tavernas, two supermarkets and a bar –

and some smallholdings amongst the scrub.

 

***

 

On the other side of the valley are

two more resort hotels like this, open

from May to October. At night, they are lit

like cruise ships. Beyond is Mount Vasiliko –

wind turbines on its slopes and, at its summit,

a monitoring post. Mare Nostrum

is everybody’s – a dozen or more navies,

and thousands of desperate optimists.

 

***

 

From the terrace by the pool, we can see,

through mountainous clefts, Mount Ida’s peak.

At the summit is Timios Stavros,

the Holy Cross chapel. In a cave

on its slopes, Zeus was born. Swifts call above us –

ecumenical, celestial, their flight

calligraphic. Crete is shaped like a

scabbardfish, feinting between Europe

and Africa. I think of the empty,

wintry rooms – the patience of islanders

used to long absences.

 

 

 

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