by Anna Crowe
The flowers, by August, brownish withered knots;
but something about the way they sprout —
growing so far, no further, up the stem
as though to exemplify the golden mean,
while the smooth shaft carries on
to its fine conclusion —
brings you to mind: a balance, willingness
to live within your strength, content with less.
Climbing Massanella, under your grandfather’s taunts
you shrank into a stubborn, reed–like patience —
thin adolescent who’d outgrown his strength —
choosing to stay beside the cave’s mouth.
When we came down hours later,
you showed me the spring and chained cup: water
brimmed a rocky basin, before spilling over
into the dark. On the summit, black vultures
had been mere specks. Leaving
the cave, you pointed at what I’d missed: thriving
tucked between a step’s riser and tread,
cyclamen balearicum; rare, sweet–scented.