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.

Somewhere,

the unknown globes keep undulating.