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Praia da Falésia

falesiaWill you come too, I ask
Yes, she tells me, eyes gleaming
I can hear the distant breathing of the sea
and want to be nearer
We don’t know the way, but follow signs
from this maze of marble and painted tiles
out between the pines in waking birdsong
on a trail of lanterns and gangways
down, down through a dark chasm of shapes 
like giant stalagmites of sand

Let’s go barefoot, she says
Wet grains, aching cold
sink under our heels and grate on our toes
Blue light from an icy moon 
and the sun hinting orange
revealing raw pigments in the earth
Hot molten colours, cool and gravelly to touch
then only miles of empty Atlantic
Waves stretch and curl into land
fizzing like spilt lemonade

Can you feel your feet, she asks
Not in much detail, I laugh
We crouch to pull on socks and shoes
dragging warmth over salt and numbness
She hands me her coat and sets off to run
out beyond the edge of vision
leaving no soul in my sight
Footprints bigger than hers or mine
vanish ahead, the rest washed away
unless some lone walker took flight

A squadron of seagulls overhead
as the clouds catch alight
I salute it all with heart and senses
weird cliffs in fire colours, sea in sea colours
masculine shades of battleships and bottle glass
The air alive and bare
as though of some newborn world
The grit and shells, cuttlebones and razor clams
mussel husks and driftwood branches
placed just so, for me alone

Then runners come, one by one
trotting east, east through a pale mist
striving sunwards, alone and together
each with his own struggles, her own troubles
Ideas and memories, breathing and footsteps
all silenced by the sea’s infinitude
I watch them vanish in the haze
one by one, like the lone walker
God could be taking them up for all I know
Maybe He’ll come for me too


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