Valletta 

Valletta.

Sun burns down on city streets,
bringing in the light, beauty,
in the shadows, mystery,
lost in ancient rows of homes and steps,
cracked flagstones balanced one upon the other,
or rooted into living rock,
tight alleyways frame views of a wave tossed harbour,
an artist might go blind from the wonders,
or mad from the ceaseless wind.

The reflections shimmer off sleek dream shapes,
tied inside the harbour wall,
as hot winds whip sand from a distance desert,
to pile them against an artillery monument,
a fixed reminder of the blood poured out upon this rock,
looking down upon the trinkets,
hundreds of names are carved deeply,
marking their martyrdom in the war,
names from every corner of this ancient island,
and far-flung empire.

Busuttill,
Galea,
Singh,
O’Neill,
Millar.

My fingers trace their letters into my memory,
the hot sandpaper wind will not fade them for generations,
their names are echoes of the past,
now the peal of cannon from the saintly heights,
carries the roar of days long gone by,
when people of every race and hue,
crewed the ships or manned the guns and died,
I’ll keep them with me humbly,
on the laughing crossing to Silema beneath the walls.

by Ruairí de Barra

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