Nightingales fresh from the south flute in the dark.
We listen weighed down by history from four until dawn
when the aqueducts thrill to a tentative tickle,
a sudden gurgle, the headlong tumble of water.
Arab hands shaped and laid the troughs
and pipes under rock, under sand, along the base
of terraces walled by the Romans – stairs climbing
right to the top of the mountain. The call to prayer
was smothered by bells and confessions, sinners
on bleeding knees who shuffled uphill
past twelve alcoved stations below the hermitage.
Moorish ruins burn gold in the amber floodlights
that seep into our room like old beliefs –
like the dregs of a prayer, a trickle of grief from the earth,
so many ancient sorrows that ought to be gone –
wiped out by the weight of god upon god upon god
Judith Barrington is the author of three poetry collections, most recently 'Horses and the Human Soul', selected by Oregon's State Library for "150 Books for the Sesquicentennial". Among her awards are The Dulwich International Poetry Prize and The Stuart Holbrook Award from Literary Arts. She teaches in the University of Alaska's MFA Program and regularly at the Almassera Vella