Poverty sent you far from home
and the sin accompanies us always.
Today we’re down from hill forests,
shedding leaves on hotel carpets.
I sense the energy of coming rain.
In narrow streets the heavens open,
we dive inside a tiny seafood place
and later, tapping to a disco beat,
chill out with studded girls in leather,
all party mode and San Miguel.
I guessed they would have liked
your lovely company all night
though that was never on the cards.
In my country, you told them,
they could cut your throat for that.
But when you’re sleeping soundly
I watch fireworks across the bay:
arcs of light from unknown places,
drink the complimentary fizz, think
how they didn’t want to let you in.
I had to sail here for a while,
to distance you, find equanimity.
Some time to spend alone.
Your crazy path lies elsewhere;
our plans were nothing more
than dream songs for winter nights.
Chance leads me to a cliff church
where amber candles reach up
like saplings from two bowls of sand
that edge a gold iconostasis
and a tiny window seems to frame
the sea of summer’s questions.
Then as if some resident saint
had whispered in my ear
I slide a candle from the metal tin,
gently trace its slender length;
take out a lighter and add another
glowing tear to the forest.
An unexpected prayer for you,
surprising me from hidden depths.
Be safe on roads as yet unknown.
John Short, from near Liverpool, first appeared in The Pterodactyl’s Wing Welsh anthology (Parthian). Recently published or forthcoming in Prole, Dream Catcher, Stepaway, Blue Nib, Envoi, Picaroon, The High Window, Sarasvati, and Poetry Salzburg. He’s a member of Liver Bards and reads at venues around Liverpool and beyond.