Two Poems of the Mediterranean Archipelago
The woman in the hotel pool swam in steady lengths,
Mindless of the Mediterranean,
The yellow sun on harbor walls,
The dance of docked white yachts.
Mindless as well of my gin and tonic,
Or Robert Graves, buried in the thick crust of Deya.
Her blond hair combed the turquoise water.
Beyond the high tips of palm trees,
Palma de Malorca rushed by,
While she kept pace in her wet world.
Swimmers know nothing but their breath,
The pull of muscles, coolness of flesh.
She did not know us, watching her slight body,
Tan limbs framed in red.
I moved my drink with the care given antiques,
Wanting to hold the yellowness of light
Caught in the glass,
Wanting to hold this last image
Of the island, the woman, and the sea.
Then she rose from the water with a rush,
Spraying the terrace deck,
The sunset in the Paseo Maritimo.
This tourist postcard of Spain.
From the red tile terrace
of the Port Mahon Hotel
I watch the sun touch Spain.
The harbor water is prickly white,
a painting by Matisse.
Boats glide against the tide
and disappear in dawn.
Menorca, mucky with heat, wakes
to the roar of Vespinos and
English tourists breakfasting.
I walk to town in the shade
of whitewashed walls.
At the Placa Reial I order café
con leche, a sugary Ensaimada,
and read yesterday’s news.
The English follow, crowding
the cobblestones, crowding
me to the sea.
In Playa de Son Bou,
under a thatched roof
I drink another cerveza and
closely watch topless Germans.
I swim to sea, float
beneath an empty sky.
It is August in the Balearics.
I am safe from Vespinos,
tourists, and yesterday’s news.
Time stopped in Barcelona.
— John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)