She learned to tell time by where the shadows
place their stain on the stucco walls.

The baker’s bread will be ready as soon as the first
shapes begin to creep away from the light.
She stands in the open window and greets the day,
taking the time to breathe in the yeasty aromas
before going down for her daily share,
the fresh, crackling crust always reminding her
of the texture of the stucco walls where the shadows
mark the time of day.

When the gray shapes stretch to vertical, tips
extending to touch the street below, it is time to close
the curtains against the advance of midday heat.
Some days she braves crowds of the market,
avoiding familiar faces, on occasion she seeks out
the breezes whispering through the orchard.
Most days though, the darker spaces within her
upstairs room are as far as she will travel.

The old men and young lovers begin to gather
in the cafe when the shades are the sharpest,
mere pencil lines scratched
diagonally across the uneven wall.
She sits in her window sill, watching the wine flow
and the shuffle of dominoes, sees the lovers kiss
and hears the old men cuss. On the days when
the sun is brightest, she allows a smile to escape.

When the shadows fade, retracting to their point of origin,
is when he used to come home to their upstairs room.


for Margo Roby’s image prompt, using James Proudfoot’s Sun on a House


Filed under Poetry

12 responses to “Shadows

  1. I love this idea of the town itself as her personal sundial. The detail here pulls me into the scene immediately. Well done!

  2. Beautiful imagery here, Mark!

  3. A poem with great atmospheric detail. I can see her in my mind, reclusive but aware.

  4. wonderful scene – like the opening of a play

  5. I love how you’ve painted your own story into this scene…so imaginative and the smell of baking bread is such a great way to open…draws one in on cartoon fingers of wafting aroma…know the ones I mean? 🙂

  6. I’m stopping for a moment to say, I love the opening lines. Now, I’ll go back and read the rest. Oh nice. I’ve stopped again. The crusty bread and the stucco walls… fantastic imagery. Oh my. I think this is the best I have read of your poems, Mark. The handling of the motif of light and shadow is masterful, the story completely natural.

  7. And so we all revolve around the sun. Nicely done.

  8. Great detailing and a nice imagery… 🙂

  9. Love the way this unfolds. Lovely structure. You really got me with that last stanza – makes you go back and read again to see what you’ve missed.

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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