The Calanques

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At Suginot the water swarms around the rock fall,
Turquoise and empty.
The round power of tides grasps like a pulse.
The bending pine branches are green hands
Cupping water, anointing the scree with polka dots.

The white couple fend away wasps
With an old shoe.
Well, she sits in silence
While he makes a fuss.

The Calanques are a secret place,
A Maquis for old sailors.
The beachheads are ancient,
The hot scrub of sea thyme and marram grass
Hides an old grid system.
‘You smuggle your silks in here,
And I’ll stow my cheap arsenal there.’

Where the yew trees beg at the surf,
Rifles used to protrude.
The bitterness of powder smoke and fear
Lingers in the stone-cracks.
The rusting anchors on the sea bed
Bear faint traces of marshal blood.
The white couple stare at each other,
Their eyes are glass portals,
Egg-timers stretched into years by the heat,
Stories distorted in the waist-twist by glass-blowers.
The finest porcelain was broken here,
Dispersed in the water as dust.

By Mattias Thomas

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