TE19 Iberian Adventure

John Hartley

watching, closing in like a silent army.”

Meanwhile my own restlessness grew fainter until it disappeared altogether, bled out onto the pages of a dog-eared journal. We had exhausted all the avenues of conversation; current affair and geo-politics, history and philosophy in a dialogue that spanned the decades of missed connections. Like migrating storks, we navigated from place to place on our own whim. Eventually, it was time to bid farewell to my Grandfather and the house he built atop a hill, waved off with two bags of oranges. The Sea breathes its briny breath across the terminal. A deluge descends like a beaded curtain. We taxi onto the runway, leaving behind the land of Camoes and Pessoa, de Deus and Saramago. Three summers passed – the kind we look upon as growing years. The following year my brother joined us in the sun- scorched backwaters. But that first summer taught me where the wanderlust came from. Truly, there is something of our family in every thought, leading us back to them. Little had changed when I returned. The palms survived and now tower over the hillside. The house is more settled, the lemon trees have matured. The shadows lengthen and converge; Grandfather was still tinkering with the irrigation. We head back outside to enjoy the last of the day’s warmth but there is an essential sadness to the exile existence, saudade and the life of severed connections. A cluster of homes stand empty, shutters forever closed. Beyond hilltop ruins and dirt, feral dogs roam free. Vitorinowaves fromhis tractor, a fewmore lines etched upon his brow. Maria gazes out from the doorway with the same cloudless eyes. Matilde had moved away to her Aunt in the city. 190

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