Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Jeffrey Thomson of Farmington dispels the darkness of November in Maine with this sunlit view from a cafe in Seville, describing the lively scene around him in a single, breathless sentence.

El Café a la Esquina de Agua y Vida, Seville

By Jeffrey Thomson

Near the café at the corner of Water and Life

in the plaza of blood oranges at the bend

of the whitewash and archways of old stone,

between the congregation of traffic and

the soft hammers of the cathedral bells,

near baths made by Peter the Cruel and

alongside the tiny carapaces of smartcars

hived in the old Jewish quarter where

the exhausted-piss-whiff of the city

wanders off into the Jardines de Murillo

where fists of palms and geometric rigmarole

circle the fountain—ficus and terra cotta

frescoes of the Christian everlasting:

the gold leaf, the halo, Madonna adoring—

near the dead-end of the road of death,

beneath keyhole arches at the mark of midyear

and in the shadow of el Real Alcázar (layered

cathedral of all that’s holy here—Christian

on Muslim on Roman on something far older),

where wings of the canopy angle out to hide me

from the wallop of the noonday sun in the square

where I’m sipping a vinho verde that tastes

like the effervescence of granite and hot straw,

the woman at the public fountain, with an ache

and a fine delicacy, runs damp hands through

her spray of dark hair, sops the hot arch

of her neck, and trails fingers down her bare

arms the way Christ might have washed

Magdelane had he been a just bit more human.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2014 by Jeffrey Thomson. Reprinted from Connotation Press, 2014, by permission of Jeffrey Thomson. Please note that the column is no longer accepting submissions; comments about it may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at [email protected] or 228-8263. “Take Heart: More Poems from Maine,” a brand new anthology collecting the final two and a half years of this column, will be available late this year from Down East Books.