The Carthaginians had a name for it,
and the Romans, the Greeks – the Arabs too,
Bint al-Riyah, Daughter of the Winds.
This mountainous, volcanic island,
with its stone tombs and obsidian tools,
lies between Sicily and Tunisia,
fifty miles from Agrigento, forty
from Sharik Peninsula – which was called
the Cape of Mercury when the sea
was Mare Internum, Mare Nostrum.
Smaller than Manhattan, with fewer people
than Peebles, who speak a Sicilian
replete with Arabic. Among the hot springs
and the fumaroles throughout the lowlands are
round, dry-stone walled gardens made from shaped lava,
built, some say, by the Phoenicians. Baffling
the winds, trapping the heat of the sun, catching
the fogs that rise from the Gulf of Hammamet
and drift across the island, they nurture
lemons and limes and kumquats and oranges.
North and south of Pantelleria
triremes passed, and aircraft carriers –
eastwards, in the strong cross currents, on deep,
deep waters small craft with refugees.