Carmen O. Menéndez

The Lady of Mojácar

The white town is perched so high on a hill
that it resembles a cluster of clouds
emerged one foggy night from the sea, yet
deterred a short distance from the coast by an odd spell.
In the sun, the manifold houses add cubical
edges and arches to this eerie pyramid,
a runaway of African made which
has rather chosen to be on its own.
Visitors turn to pilgrims
and climb up to the running old fountain,
a washing place of yore now dotted with geraniums,
which feels like a miracle in a land with no rain.
The old lady stands there like a queen,
slender in her fiesta dress made of dark wool and gold.
She keeps her jug in balance and poses for outsiders,
while she smiles glancing at flashes, to show
that tradition doesn’t oblige women any more.
At night the stars are taken for street lamps,
and jasmine scent, at corners, flirts dancing
around crimson bushes of bougainvillea
that cascades down the uneven walls.

Carmen O. Menéndez
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Carmen O. Menéndez
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse