Pat Jones

Outside Avignon

by John Byrne

A homely aqueduct, no name, no sign,
No lofty arches like the Pont de Gard,
Low, squat, its cliff-edge end designed
To drop the waterflow, fast and hard

To sixteen waterwheels down below
That powered gristmills for the valley’s grain.
All ruins now, a bare outline, although
The grain persists and I can conjure when

It ground the harvests of the Roman past.
This complex earns but half a Blue Guide phrase
To turn a head, perhaps, while driving fast
From schism popes to Van Gogh’s final phase.

No cars today, nothing to drown the squeals
Of phantom grinding stones and waterwheels.
John Byrne lives in Albany, Oregon.  He writes formal verse, short stories and puppet plays, mainly for the elementary school his daughter attends. Most recently, some of his sonnets have appeared in Autumn Sky and Lyric.