I was reminded of that day

Before you were even born, when

Snow came to the Basque region. It

Settled with its tents and self-cleansing

Stakes that pierced

An arid lip in the vineyards that lay

Fallow this year (though long before

The wet luxury of choice filled the hearts

And wooden knuckles of the hungry).


Indentations seemed to manifest.

The shape of foot-falls pressed in powder.

Every seventh step bore a fruit, or

The suggestion of a flower – perhaps

A mallow from Albion, or

Bergamots from Turkey. It was early morning.


He soon was noticed, though, carrying a heavy

Twisted staff of Cypress wood, like

Some sort of Saint, he was. Bearded,

Sombre in his movements.

Slow in stature. Old.


It took him a long time

To walk above the sleeping furrows. And

The bent old women, their faces

Many calendars of baking sun shrunk back

Old what were now cold and brittle bones,

They stood up, pulled the shawls

Around their sons, and rubbed the residue

Of March-earth into tiny knots


Between each finger. They watched him.

Presently, the old man spoke. He spoke of change,

Reminded them of things they had all

Vanquished from collective memory.

He spoke of movement, of travel

Between lands, he shook with a sad,

Rehearsed laughter when he saw the boundary

Formed by the valley’s zenith, and pulled his

Coats close around his throat.


And the townswomen soon saw him

Sink below the ridge from view.

Every seventh footstep clearing snow

To make way for that which grows

Beneath the hardest, oldest bark

Or the most aged, tired hands.

About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

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