Beyond the French doors leading out to this fourth-floor rental’s balcony, open sky above a pre-Cubist arrangement of ochre walls, blue-gray shutters both open and closed, and terra cotta roofs—all studded with innumerable accessories and doodads: small chimneys gathered in familial groups and wearing metal caps, a Celtic cross and two stone urns atop the church; a gold ball below a flag-like weathervane at the apex of a pyramidal tower, the pointy, floppy tops of three cypresses projecting up like elf hats; satellite dishes, the metal skeletal wings of TV antennas, and, best of all, the shiny cylindrical vents whose tops, spinning like pinwheels, flash festively with sunlight—all these conduits and valves and instruments that in one way or another mediate between worlds, between a sky saturated with sunlight and the streets below, noisy with the cries of children on their way to school and the clang of workers in blue jumpsuits assembling a scaffolding against the wall opposite, keeping it all from falling apart.
Jeffrey Harrison is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Into Daylight, published by Tupelo Press in 2014 as the winner of the Dorset Prize. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the Bogliasco Foundation, among other honors. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and journals, as well as in Best American Poetry 2016, Best American Poetry2017, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Poets of the New Century, The Twentieth Century in Poetry, and other anthologies, and been featured onThe Writer’s AlmanacandAmerican Life in Poetry. He lives in Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.jeffreyharrisonpoet.com.
Header photo, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire seen from the roofs of Aix-en-Provence in 2005, by Nicolas Brignol, courtesy Wikimedia.