Just before having a very recent holiday in Madeira I attended a writing workshop at my local museum which was themed around their current exhibition on mapping. It was with this theme in mind that I wrote the following poem. One of the things I love to do is to write about things that are there in front of me when I can process what I am seeing, hearing and feeling in real-time to be polished later at my leisure. Not only is the poem now a great moment of my holiday, but it and two others I wrote are going to be published in an anthology to help raise funds for the museum. I love the idea of poetry in action. I hope you enjoy it.
FUNCHAL. by Neil William Holland
The first light declares itself like a land-based star,
one single point taking its place in a soon-to-be constellation
that is Funchal at night.
Others follow and I find my way by them.
The up-lit trees and jeweled homes
trespassing on ancient volcanic slopes.
A brighter white north-star of light marks the headland of the bay.
Lamps colour doors like chameleons morphing night from day.
I have walked their ways, the shops, the parks, the roads,
now they exchange their white globes
for a world of warmth and mysterious shadows.
The streets help me to navigate from my balcony, the tall hotels,
the churches, the malls, illuminate my memory as their lights
pulse in the hot night air. I make it a familiar place, standing there,
counting the nights left of our stay, my glass of wine in hand.
I’m tired from our Levada walk, and retiring to a different land.
At first light, our balcony rail silhouettes its shadow, creeps
around the fabric-folds and valleys of our net curtain.
To my right, in the old villa garden a cockerel crows
as Funchal begins to stir. To my left the feint murmur
of traffic grows, but the silence of the sea remains.
This compass of sound is a gentle wakening.