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This article is taken from PN Review 70, Volume 16 Number 2, November - December 1989.

For Burning Christopher Middleton
 
At dusk one cooling gust of wind riffles a fan of leaves at the top of a palm tree, dead leaves, a west wind, disconnected pianola keys, there's no tone, only a clatter, and it isn't a rustle, it's the creak of a wicker chair vacated a moment ago, the pained smile for an instant cracking Bogart's features in a Casablanca casino, or is it, magnified, the crackle of a camisole being stripped off, no, finally it's the sound cards make when the dealer shuffles a pack between the balls of his thumbs and his fingertips. There are creatures that live only the few seconds it takes them to mate; dizzy, the lifetimes of yesterday's shadows; minefields of thought a figure wriggles across to join the deafening torrent of emergence.

* * *

Clarifying light the Mistral polishes every shape, brings closer every sign, lifting into relief the fourteen varied tones of green, slowly driving curled clouds - they have gold bellies and purple shoulders - southward across a blue sky, effortless they flock toward the sharp ridge of farthest hills, while the little sapphire bird repeats his question - pluie? pluie? - streaks of light miles long pick out certain stone walls and, remoter, mouse-coloured till now, pink cliffs, darkening the forest green and making translucent emerald the July vines, tangible the apricot trees, ranks of them are waving their fruit in a terraced orchard, tossing in the wind the smoky olive trees, for ...


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