While waiting for the sunset I sat observing life in Porto Covo which inspired me to write a poem:
Two old men wearing faded granddad cardigans and flat caps sitting on a bench chatting about the good old days.
A grey-haired woman in a black dress with a plastic bag being followed by a dozen stray cats. What’s in the bag? Fish bones, meat scraps, pet food? They know it’s for them. It must be a regular arrangement.
A small group of teenaged girls leaning against the blue and white walls, trying to look cool. No cigarettes, no bottles of beer, but plenty of attitude.
The fisherman, perched on the roof of the dock building, trying his luck to catch his supper. No joy today.
The local Grizzly Adams, walking his Alsatian which chases away the cats and is then chased away by the woman in black.
The two young brothers comparing the latest music downloads on their iPhones. One in his bright red hoody with a childish logo and the other in a grey and black zip top and burgundy corduroys, clearly the responsible one, the one who will be blamed for any misdoings.
A tiny silver car with yellow Portuguese plates, brakes squealing as it takes the steep descent to the harbour.
Tall heads of sisal, spiky mother-in-laws tongue and creeping succulents cover the cliffs in a green carpet.
A mangy tabby sitting under a bench licking its paws after a sumptuous supper. Creeping like a tiger through the bushes and quickly hiding when a vehicle passes.
The ½ litre carafe of wine, slowly disappearing. Smooth, soft, velvet, red wine leaving a furry tongue and a warm glow in my empty tummy. Seemed silly to have a glass when the carafe costs not much more.
Two women, heels click clacking, tongues wig-wagging as they march down the street to a parked Nissan. Another car starts behind me, fan belt screaming, tyres screeching as it disappears up the road.
A small blue fishing boat bobbing in the harbour, outboard motor raised, small Portuguese flag flapping in the breeze, waiting for the right time to seek out the serpents of the sea.
The noise of the waves crashing against the rocks like a roaring freight train barrelling down the tracks. They come in threes. High curling tongues, turning to white frothy foam, dowsing the dark jagged rocks.
Then, a peace descends. Just before the golden globe reaches the horizon. A cool breeze sends a shiver to my skin. The old men gather, gazing out to sea, remembering colleagues, friends, family who are no longer here.
Slowly the sun sinks into the sea as the wine flows into my body and the river flows into the harbour. The clouds turn rusty orange, then candyfloss pink. A flock of birds fly past, silhouetted in the glow of the sun. Where are they going? South. Following the warmth and the light, and their souls.
And still, only the locals gather to witness the spectacle. I am alone on the terrace with only my wine and my words.
Suicidal flies drown in my vino tinto.
A mesmerising wind vane spins in the breeze, hypnotising me like the snake in “Jungle Book”.
The sun has left the day but night has yet to arrive. The sky is still blue but the air is cooling.
The voices of the local men rise once the sun has sunk. A debate about some political scandal, the latest football results or local gossip. Who knows? My Portuguese is very limited. Actually I know only a handful of useful words.
Thank you – Obrigada
Good day – Bom Dia
Red Wine – Vinho Tinto
Open and closed – Aberto and Fechado
A motor sounds. A boat? A generator? A car? I never discover. I never see.
A shadow on the roof of the dock building. A man hastening, for what? He stands, arms outstretched, like the statue of Jesus at Christo Rei. Is he thanking God? Is he sending a warning? Perhaps he has finally caught his fish supper.
Below him it seems as if a flame is burning, inside the dock building. Or is it just a reflection of the setting sun?
Out at sea, beneath the darkening sky dotted with pale peach clouds, is a single boat. Fishing? Perhaps it will provide the fresh fish for tomorrow’s market.
The flame still flickers, the fisherman still silhouetted on the roof. His rod poised purposefully, determined to dine on fresh fish tonight.
The old men still debating, voices soften, stop, then rise again in debate.
The street lights come alive, offering a soft glow to the increasingly darkening night. A wife, chasing up her husband, appears with the men. Unsuccessful, she leaves in disgust. Perhaps there will be no supper for him tonight. Perhaps he will sleep in a small fisherman’s hut.
Then, as the twilight gives way to the darkness, they leave one by one. Slowly, strolling home to their indoor lives.
My glass is empty and I too must pay my bill and head home too. But where is home?
I am still searching for it.