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Poetry Pleases: Laranjeiras, Portugal

Jean Cowgill’s poem, redolent with the sights sounds and smells of Portugal, reminds us that folk are much the same whichever country they live in.

Lured out by economic opportunity
elderly women mime coffee-drinking
with work hands raised to leather faces.
A taberna is pointed out
offering respite from heat.
Two groups climb valley sides.
Marching boots and murmured voices fade.
Replaced by a perpetual conversation
of colonies of goldfinch on mimosa.
Swallows perform silent strikes.
Fearsome dogs guard territory:
smallholdings with strips of lettuce,
potatoes and courgettes,
shaded by almond trees
whose sun-soaked harvest
lies at rest on roof-tops.
Olive groves guard the village
each tree offers welcome shade.
Beyond the boundary oak-trees,
stripped of bark and numbered,
stand ashamed of their nakedness.
Hens cluck and cocks crow
evoking memories of Swaledale
where rheumy-eyed old gals
staggered on arthritic feet;
too loved, too old for the pot.
Not unlike the custodians of Laranjeiras.

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