View from the hill
The clear-flowing Mosel branches off the Rhine.
Languorous valleys enfold a course
that veers from the famous waterway.
Steep vineyards on dark-green hillsides
are tightly braided in rows across the heads
like of women on a stroll in Limpopo.
(Direction front to back, not left to right
like I saw closer to Koblenz.)
And medieval structures
squat closely together
like pavement gamblers around coins.
The twined vines span the curved alleys
above colourfully festooned windows:
laurel wreaths of forgotten gods.
The streets sleep tight through the night
in their cobbled armour of timeworn tales,
while in the day flat-bottomed thrills
chug up- and downstream
plastering the water with their reflections
and flaunting floppy canopies.
I pass a museum (a former inn)
named after Goethe.
According to registers, the cultural father
pulled in here for a few hours once –
on the night of 1 November 1792,
en route from France.
It was a Thursday, a Wednesday maybe.
Either way, there is a view from a hilltop
behind the town, then only a hamlet
that the mayor wanted the visitor to see.
But the author could not wait to set forth
for his home in Weimar, crown
of the Enlightenment and dome of great truths
still far away –
so he declined the invitation to stay
and left with a whiplash
by cart for a barque
which took him on his journey further.
He never beheld the local tableau –
of there below, as you look left:
the town clock looming larger
and whiter than the moon
in its steeple;
or the self-contained thumbnail square
that remembers a time long lapsed.
His dream was the great and eternal stream,
something like the Rhine.
And below, to the right,
in a clump of trees, I see a beech
which the great man would not have known about.
I zoom my binoculars in on
a straw nest in the tall sky broom
with little bird’s eggs in,
tiny yolks in enamel, there:
discoloured, dappled and stained.
And I name these small planets:
First, Gone away, and Africa;
or Obliviousness, Genesis and Early Mist.
the unknown globes keep undulating.