from Issue #8: Poetry by Luke Whitington

Photo (CC) Igor @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Igor @ Flickr


Only fig, wine and prosciutto

In the gilded mirror we sit – expectant
Yet distracted, sallow figures in the glow
Of a hotel dining room – the hush of luxury
Hovers in the background, waiters blur
Passing with a tinkling of glass and silver.

Thoughts of finished lovemaking linger
And float away, words begin to form
But trail off into softer, vaguer notions
Our limbs start to wake, stirring from recent idleness –

Dazed still we contemplate a pyramid of bruise-purple figs
All painterly perfect – some peeled to a ribbed, pale green
Some split wide open, inviting the tongue and lips to try —

And combine them with a silky slice of Parma ham
Folded in ripples of filmy redness across our plates.
Under its dark blue skin, the unpeeled fig waits
For our palate, with its pulp of honey-slow flavour –

And your smile broadens as I watch
You stab your fork into a pink and cream slice
As you anticipate the flavour of rosy flesh
Your eyes swimming with reflected light

Swirling up from rubescent wine from Umbria, Torregiano
A Terroir type, grapes trellised and grown and plucked
Carried in baskets from the tilled furrows of their province.
Your nose crinkles – another sniff of tannin pungency
Cured ham and fig and wine nurtured from ochre chernozem

Chewed and tippled carefully, warm and cool from a fecund earth —
A quick taste; a quiver to the heart, savoured in recollection
Of summer and winter harvesting, feasts under trees and slanting memories
Begin to mingle, turning sweetly in my mouth –

Crisp marries well with soft and also effervescence
Seconds later lush and lean slipping down
A sumptuous buttering, a plump delight
Remaining on the tongue, more wine – now

Intoxicating us – drained like an old friend – the ruler of our tipsy minds.




Apricots and cumquats

For days I watched you walking
Through the marketplace
Gulls’ cries above and wings gliding about you –
How those naked sandals on your feet, amazed

And hair unkempt but carefully tumbling so
It tossed articulation when you spoke –
And then you reached and picked up the fruit; an apricot
Always was your first choice, and your preferred theme it seemed –

A skimpy orange dress
Suntanned legs unhindered by the floating cotton –
In certain stray slants of sunshine
Your hair curling with its light, flecks as free as autumn leaves

Unfolding red and russet against the walls of rising green swells
Breeze-blown threads across the travertine pier –
You were tall amongst the older women’s scarfed heads
Through the sun-bleached slanted green umbrellas…

The recurrence of the sea’s echoes heaving against travertine
Seemed an undercurrent to your course
Through stalls and barrows in the windy square
Giddy green crashing against your conversations

Made often through cupped hands…
Soon I learnt to follow, a little careful
Not to get too close, buying apricots and cumquats
And then for good measure some oranges and mandarins; appearing to be

Circling there for no other reason – innocent or complicit
Furtive or urbane – ridiculously I strayed along behind you –
Until several days later when the sky had changed
Displayed in streaks of greys and yellows

And you did not come again
And I had the market
To myself for three or four days –
And then for weeks afterwards…

My bowls and oval plates

Placed on the window ledges –
Still lives – depicting to a wintry square
Your absence, arranged in mandarins, cumquats

Oranges… And with the tawny silence of the apricots.




LUKE WHTINGTON has travelled extensively and has been published in Dublin journals, anthologies and Irish media, as well as several Australian journals and anthologies, including Australian Love Poems 2013 and an anthology of Canberra poets to be published in China. Recently he read his love poems in Florence with Sarina Rausa, a lead soprano with the Florence opera company, singing her arrangements of his poetry. Luke divides his time between Italy and his cattle farm in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.

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