It was long ago now
when we stayed at the Auberge Della Sommita
balanced on the edge of a brutal cliff.
Me, with my new husband and young child;
Bill, with his boyish grin,
and hair cascading to his waist
was a delight to those we passed
as we strolled
through cobbled laneways
and up treacherous stairs
past women huddled on benches
who would shyly wave
to acknowledge our unusual parade.
In the morning, the padrone
would fish the trout for the evening meal,
his wife would prepare the polenta
that all insisted I would learn to love.
We dressed the child in an embroidered
green and cream folk-dress,
placed a carved walking stick into her hands
took loving photos of her as she stood
proudly beside Lago di Cencenighe,
as beautiful as a mischievous, mountain imp,
eyes alight with daring potential.
Every morning Bill would choose the same song
from the juke-box downstairs,
and up to our rooms would float
poetry transmuted into sweet lament.
Together in clouds of violet haze we would mourn
the loss of the palette, blue and grey.
And on those summer days,
high in the Dolomites,
when I was still in love, when my child
still took shelter in my arms,
when my brother, Bill, was still alive;
I was happy for a time.
Lesley Carnus is a poet and teacher who lives in Chippendale, NSW. She co-ordinates the Refugee Language Program at Sydney University which offers free English classes, advice and support to asylum seekers and refugees seeking study or employment. Her writing has appeared in PeaceWrites, Cordite, the Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman Prize anthology- Long Glances, Contrappasso, Hermes, Australian Poetry Journal and pacificREVIEW 2016. Lesley delights in world-music, art, literature and singing and wandering the streets of the inner-city.