Alison Dunhill




by Alison Dunhill


Tuesday, 9th September at Vermelha Beach: Before.

That dark mountain foothill
is the Sugarloaf’s body you say,
not its old granite head.
On the concrete tourist promenade

you filmed the monkey as it flattened its belly
in film star pose on the broad branch
above the sun-swamped sea.
Now the narrow forest path is

Some flat dry-leaved side-spaces
are a tiny relief
from its root-studded relentless incline.

We are in Rio looking for insects to film. They elude us.
The moving cable car glints
high and silent,

Its double flashes a second chrome capsule
and you film.
I long for it to carry us down the mountain,
apprehensive at the path’s unstoppable incline.

But we are in the middle you say;
neither up nor down. Cannot board a car.
I reject your shoulder
It is already laden with cameras, tripods, cameras.

Shadows of huge banana leaves, pink banana flower.
I stumble on a mahogany root emerging
from the dry ground.
Bleed into the mountain, the Sugarloaf mountain.

Sunday 14th September in Niteroi: After.

There’s nobody around;
they’re in the air-cooled shopping mall.
I’m standing in the red box’s shade,
black and red Berlin scarf on to protect the wound.

In the open blue and white space
I look at the Niemeyer mound.
Its symmetrical form curves into pure sky.

Its white cement fondue comes up from the ground
with water around.
Thirty seagulls hover and swoop;
One white heron struts.

The birds prefer this little water
to the vast glistening sea.
The glistening sea. Its sparkling
is pierced by a black jetty in still silhouette

where three men fish. Four herons – now one,
fly wide-white-winged over and land on it.
The glittering, sun-swamped, sun-swooning sea
flanked by horizons of mountains,

hundreds of mountains.
Over there the marvellous city, I think City of God
and the favela guys streaming down their mountain
to the glistening sea.

December 2014-January 2015