Garafraxa

Garafraxa

exhales dolomite,

the dusk-deepening, stone breaths

of this steel-hard species of limestone,

where

Hart’s Tongue and rare orchids

survive in the cracks and crevices

of coral reefs marooned,

ages and ages past.

Of pre-things left behind

Now,

dampened under northern light,

and broken by northern ice.

I’ve seen limestone in other places,

hotter places,

where the rock

blazes white beneath the sun.

Pharaohs used to plate their tombs with limestone

pyramids made white-bright with limestone

you could go blind from that limestone;

no one ever went blind from dolomite.


The Garafraxa Road loops over the old reefs,

a ragged ridge of tomb-grey skeletons,

once swarming stuff

that hated winter and hated ice

waiting, without patience, until the poles move

little by little,

hoping,

perhaps, that

when all of us are gone,

the warm oceans will return

to drown these fields

where, for a hundred years,

farmers’ children stooped a thousand, million times

to fill stone boats,

to build stone fences,

around their Garafraxa farms.


I had a friend once, killed by dolomite.

He fell, and a great squared tower stone

fell after him, and crushed him.

In those casual days

such things happened more often,


Towers built by forgotten men

to burn rock

into lime,

abandoned,

square towers made of blocks

of dolomite,

all loosened through age,

standing like castles.

Richard, climbing there in the evening, alone.


His father tied him to a wide plank, I heard,

and, harnessed to it, dragged his son home

desperate against death, long ago.


Afterwards,

stonemasons took those towers down

to save other boys from falling

the fatal blocks cut up and used,

no doubt,

for tombstones,

in the cemeteries,

along the Garafraxa Road.

MC 2021

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