Sarah Stewart 69
When we stopped for shade in a courtyard –
cold mosaic tiles, baskets of jasmine –
we opened water bottles and stale pasticcini
and talked about the hike up and how small
the town was and how happy we were
to be asked for directions on the road
though we could only say non siamo di qui
and shrug. The air was thick with birdsong,
incense and (somewhere) weed and then
we heard the singing: a choir, no instruments,
an old, crumpled priest conducting younger priests.
The light seemed whiter and more radiant
falling on the graffiti and chipped ochre and blue;
we froze with our lukewarm water and pastries
afraid to move in case we disturbed them –
it was heaven. I am telling you now
it was heaven and we had no idea.
Sarah Stewart is a writer and editor based in Edinburgh. Her first poetry pamphlet, Glisk, is published by Tapsalteerie, and she writes children’s fiction as Sarah Forbes. She was a UNESCO City of Literature Writer in Residence in Krakow in 2017.