From‘An Algarve Sketchbook’
East Asian Thought by a Portuguese Pool
Deckchairs – an impeccable retort,
neatly arrayed beside a shimmering pool,
to all that’s gloomiest in Buddhist thought:
no suffering today! That blissful cool
will make you feel that you can levitate,
while shifting shapes of light and shadow play,
and sun’s caress and blanket’s warmth await:
this is decidedly a Daoist day.
Why be ashamed? Draw sweetness from each ray:
you’re destined, with sun-worshippers, to strive
without striving; call it wu wei
or what you will. It’s good to be alive,
with hardly a wisp of white in the boundless dome,
and eyes half-blinded, as when you emerged from the womb.
To Palms on the Seafront
Palm trees on parade
like giant elongated pineapples
prodding the sky from a white, cobbled pavement,
I’ve seen you wave
ingenious deep-green fronds like paper cuttings
freshly completed –
show them off to teacher!
dancing defiant in drizzle,
come back with me and cheer my spirits there.
Could you adjust to the dreary country I’m from –
lift our morale and solve our political problems?
Could you forget the breakers, the boardwalk, the gulls,
the chatter in Portuguese, the promise of warmth?
Palm trees – pineapples, cheerleaders –
I’m not sure I could bear to chop you down,
remove you from the habitat you know.
Logistically, it would be difficult:
strapping you on to the roof of the shuttle bus
and then the plane: “We’re having some turbulence
from palm trees…”
I’ll have to leave you behind,
but shake once more: I’ll carry you in my mind.
The Workaholic on Holiday
…is not very good at relaxing.
Gazing out at the waves is too taxing!
So she thinks up some task
and thus fashion a mask
for compulsive behaviour. No basking,
no pottering poolside – not she!
And no dipping of toes in the sea.
If such things are done,
they must not be for fun
but conducted most seriously.