The Moors left cobbled snake trails

and all day you weather them. You are tricked

by bread and olives, by the legend of Barcelos

and decanters of cheap white wine.

White-washed apartments gleam like buttons

in the all-day sun, as if boasting—

the earthquake did not claim us.

Pastries burst into feathers on your tongue.

You eat standing in the street, alone,

and it is almost Africa. There are almonds.

Tin-roofed shanties beneath train tracks

and one folded gypsy in cathedral-shadows.

Your blouses and under-things surrender out the window

unlike angels; black panties butterfly

to the balcony below.

This means you won’t get back here.

Night shakes its cape and suddenly

lanes choke with grilled fish and drunks

glow amber. Patrons crowd entries

to basement Fado clubs and laments smoke

into the lanes. You think of hungry, wide-winged birds.

Port-coloured stains. Keep your back to the wall.

Wrong again.

Lisbon is not your legacy, but as wind slings

and strung lights sway above diners

in unlikely places, you feel a kind of home

beneath the clotheslines and red petals

whisked from window boxes, then crushed

beneath sandals and stilettos in the chorus

of long-throated lanes.

Later night, and coal-eyed children

wobble over stones on rust-pocked bikes.

You imagine learning to walk here.

You imagine falling into the spell

of blue-green tiles and beach-light.

The waiter brings a blanket for bare shoulders.

I could see you, he says, shivering.

Haven’t seen the moon since you arrived.

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