Image by Jan Kemp

Cold Moon

Cold Moon

Cold moon in velvet, Europe’s moon
Riding the slates and chimney pots of London
You walk over Paris too, in squares and gardens
The fountain waters give you back your face

Cold Europe’s moon, along the Côte d’Azur
You are finding out the little rocky bays,
The flickering bat-flight between palm and palm.
In Tuscan woods the stranger apprehends you.

St Mark, St Michael in their piazzas praise you
Who with a light that silvers Como’s peaks
Can gild the Adriatic. Everywhere you discover
The stones of Christ, the glass stained with His blood.

Nothing is changed by change. You are as you were
Madonna of the skies, reminding Europe
What moon-crazed folly set a city blazing,
What story sprang from that illustrious wrong.

Cold moon, you showed me once an olive grove
And cypresses bathed in such beauty it seemed
The voices of their dead cried out demanding
The twang of an ancient wire, the words of an ancient song.


‘Cold Moon’, from Straw Into Gold, Poems New & Selected (Auckland University Press, 1997), © C K Stead 1997, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004.

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