Walking through thyme

Comino Valley, Italy


Shepherds on Monte Marro lace ciocie,
crush sage and glistening thistle as they climb.
Their dogs wear iron collars, guard sheepfolds.
Bones lie stone-weathered on treeless slopes.
Below, in Casalvieri, houses hunch inwards, lurch
above the valley. The church, heavy-doored,
has sheltered and nourished generations,
sanctified their wheat, their vine.

Survival is land. Sons of the mountains leave
one by one. There is no land left to divide
among them. They peddle pots and pans,
gasp at tales of lands with moist soil,
a thickening of cities. The young of Comino
leave to the tears of the old. They send home
good news with tea leaves in an envelope.
With each generation, roots loosen


Wealth returns. New houses with
slight foundations are taller than oak tree,
wider than the plot that grew a family
On the terraces below Montattico
stones lie unlifted. A bell rings for mass.

There are barely enough faithful
to baptise a child. Bread and wine
no longer taste of turned earth.

On Monte Marro a herdsman calls
his cows to a stone cistern. Their bells
clangle melodiously. He moves
through thistle and thyme. His cows
sway unhurriedly, drink deeply.

Christine De Luca, Luath Press, 2005


  • "The poet shows great skill in rendering meaningful Shetland poems from a variety of original sources."The New Shetlander, No. 234 - Yule Issue 2005
  • "She has again proved herself to be both a fine poet and a worthy ambassador for Shetland literature."The Shetland Times, September 2005
  • "This is poetry to be spoken aloud, allowing the sound of the words to form in the mind."The Herald, October 2005
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