Emma Lee finds a sense of place and atmosphere in Caroline Maldonado’s new chapbook

avenaleWhat they say in Avenale 
Caroline Maldonado
Indigo Dreams Publishing 
ISBN 9781909357655
30pp           £6

Avenale is a village in Le Marche region of Italy where (from the title poem)


Here, points Pierino, there's stone
behind the rendering, over there
will be brick. No earthquake
will shift this house, says Mirko.

The inhabitants seem very aware of their impermanence against that of the natural world and the structures they’ve built to withstand it. The poems explore both humanity and geography. Here, during a swim “In the Lake” in water

flecked only by a dragonfly

or further off a leaping carp.
Here I can shift a monastery 
or mountains. I can split the sky.

Who do they belong to, forked
and pale, floating below me
through the milky green?

Nature isn’t always so benign as revealed in “Sirocco”. Here’s the complete poem:

They tried to shut it out, the hot African wind.
All night it raged. It snapped tree-trunks
clattered shutters and lifted deckchairs
and umbrellas across the lawn.

Now it has burst through the door:
dry leaves, dust and detritus bounce
and skitter across the floor tiles
tossed like small boats across the sea.

The repetition of across emphasises the crossing of boundaries between nature and man-made structures, the weakness of the boundary between civility (the orderly deckchairs and umbrellas) and chaos (the disruption caused by the wind) and the reminder that people are still at nature’s mercy. Those short sounds of double consonants in the first stanza give way to longer vowels in the second as the sirocco succeeds in gaining entry. No doubt in Avenale the people still cling on in an eternal tug between imposing order and losing to nature.

Caroline Maldonado’s poems demonstrate both a respect and fondness for their subject. Her descriptions of both the landscape and the people show compassion and curiosity without judgement.


Emma Lee’s Ghosts in the Desert is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing. She blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com