“In the Pyrenees” by William Heath

         "In the Pyrenees"

			If you hanker for Romanesque
			churches with sculpted portals,
			cloisters where every column
			is topped by fine-crafted figures
			animating cold stone in scenes
			from a distant Medieval world
			where sacred and profane,
			saint and drunken reveler,
			meet face to face—then drive 
			to the Valley of Aran, remote 
			a thousand years until a tunnel 
			cut through rugged mountains.
			In each town an ancient church
			earth-bound by heavy stones,
 			a bell tower rising to the sky.
			Above the altar a flaking frescoe
			of a seated Christ Pantocrator 
			holds the world in one hand.

			In the valley you confront
			tortuous drives to rustic towns
			clinging to its flanks, narrow
			streets lead to arcaded plazas,
			one dead-ended at a fancy spa.
			Although a pricy Parador served
			swordfish tasting like cardboard
			dipped in orange juice, Catalan
			cuisine is justly celebrated.
			In the tiny town of Meranges
			we dined at Can Borrell, a five-
			star restaurant tucked away
			at the end of a scenic valley.
			I had black sausage and beans,
			Civet d’Isart [venison stew],  
			a Raimat cabernet.  The chef’s
			grace note sautéd mushrooms
			plucked from the mountainside.  

			If you travel in the Pyrenees
			and savor good food, prepare 
			to change plans and stay another
			night (my choice rabbit in pear
			sauce), vow to return next year

William Heath has published two books of poetry, The Walking Man and Steel Valley Elegy; two chapbooks, Night Moves in Ohio and Leaving Seville; three novels, The Children Bob Moses Led (winner of the Hackney Award), Devil Dancer, and Blacksnake’s Path; a work of history, William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest (winner of two Spur Awards); and a collection of interviews, Conversations with Robert Stone. www.williamheathbooks.com