Word had got round the cobbled streets
up and down the flights of steps
through laden groves
around the bell tower of the church
and through the town hall doors
as high as heaven that,
from a little shrub down the valley,
the first nightingale had been heard.
Every swimming pool trembled
a pattern of concentric circles.
Every orange leaf whispered.
Green lemons thudded down.
Every gecko paused,
one star-filled foot raised,
as if by doing that would help it
catch a note from the deep velvet trill
flooding terraces along the mountainsides.
That breathless night
we gathered on the patio,
hoping to hear it for ourselves, our glasses
as full as the moon silvering down,
our expectant ears cocked wide as scallop shells
until one by one frogs began to fill the air,
their cacophony, so deafening
any nightingale would drown in it.
All through the evening
frogs croaked and belched and farted,
got louder still, as if ganging up
to shout down the sweetness of the bird
although I’m sure they only meant to call
We’re here, we’re here and we are beautiful.
Besides, they had busy days ahead
where afterwards they’d be able only
to float silent on their pond in starlight
and hear the nightingale.
Pat Borthwick is a much published, prizewinning poet. Her recent collections include 'Swim' (Mudfog 2005), 'Wave' (Templar 2007) and 'Admiral Fitzroy's Barometer' (Templar 2008). She has regularly visited the Almassera Vella on courses and retreat. www. Poetrypf.co.uk/patborthwickpage.html