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Almassera Vella

John  Godfrey


Almàssera Vella

(for Christopher and Marisa North)

Having first discovered that a cone, tipped
on its side, will naturally roll in a circle, hew two
from Toledo granite – angled just so – and lay them
on a granite bed; then harness them with iron,
not only to each other
but to a small, black engine.
Now add steam
so that the whole crazy assembly becomes
a carousel of whirling stone, of planets orbiting
the rivetted steel sun that is a hopper
tapered to fit between them
the way a ‘V’ would interlock with two ‘A’s.

Here is your olive-press – and still here –
though the sounds of it you’ll now
have to imagine: the effete huffs
of exhausting steam shouldn’t be too difficult;
the rush and slap of belts on pulleys,
the stutter of worn cogs a little harder, maybe.

Next, shed a few years to stand alongside Juan,
smoking one of his coarse cigarettes
as he empties sacks into the chute,
and listen to the harvest from a distant November
cannoning down the funnel like hailstones
on a tin roof.
And that other sound, one that is
not stone rolling over stone but is bursting skin,
grit and crystal biting flesh – a sound I neither know,
nor could I conjure – hear that too.

Then let your fingers trace the rough grain
on the surface of this altar; see how deep the stain:
if you put your nose to it you can smell
the stone. But there’s something else…

Almàssera Vella, Relleu, Spain, 7th Sep 2004



John Godfrey is one of the fine company of Poets from Ware in Hertfordshire - his poetry has won innummerable prizes including first in the Kent and Sussex in 2000 and in the Peterloo in 2005. His first collection 'Replaying the Echo' (Rockingham Press) is followed by his most recent collection 'The Man on Crewe Station' (2011 Rockingham Press, ISBN 978 1 904851 40 0) He attended Michael Donaghy's course at the Almassera in 2004 and this poem was written then.


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