Leaving Pico

(from The Holyoke)

We heard Pico from the kitchen
where the living sat rolling
cigarettes in their thick fingers,
their bottles of Narragansett
in front of them on the table
where they sat and said verde,
green, like the backs
of certain fish or the throats
of the small birds that suck
at blossoms along the white-washed
fences in late spring:
green and clay roads, they said,
and the rolling walls
brushed white with lime,
and how many trunks
in the hold of a ship,
what dishes, what cloth, how many
rosaries and candles to the Virgin,
and the prayers for the old dead
they left to sleep under the wet hills
(the green hills, and at night
light from the oil lamps
and sometimes a guitar keening
and windmills that huddled white
over the small fields of the dead)
and all the time they were
preparing themselves behind
their violet lips and heavy eyes
to sleep in this different earth
consoled only by how the moon
and the tide must set themselves
pulling off to other darkness
with as little notion of returning.



More Poems from The Holyoke

Diving For Money
Ernestina The Shoemaker's Wife
The Old Country
Torrão Natal
Largando o Pico