Absence: the highest form of presence
Grapes are pricey this year.
Plump with summer juice
their flesh release bacchic scents.
Touched they become crystal balls.
I see a vineyard in Southern France,
vines running low in fields of pebbles.
Leaves, tendrils hugging stones for warmth
like hungry kittens sucking life.
Beneath linden trees tired vintagers
whispering strange words:
"August rites, communion, reverence,"
as bees and cicadas' high-speed chase
sent greens to shiver in the heat of day.
I danced 'round a sundial
to see if my shadow
could alter time framed by a Latin sign.
War came, the vines died.
Near the sundial, Waffen SS guards
shot two RAF pilots
and ten harboring villagers.
Legend says, the ground
ever since refuses yield to man.
Too old to dance, I returned once,
sat on the barren stones,
almost smelled the grapes.
Bees, cicadas rustling their passion
flew by exhausted toward fertile land
past the linden trees' silver trunks,
their leaves of scented hearts
light as holy water
sprinkled the graves, sundial:
Remember only the happy hours.
Genevieve C. Kissack