Eight years ago, I had a holiday on Gran Canaria. It was my first visit to the Canaries which I had imagined as a white sandy paradise. Instead I found a rather ugly land defaced by cheap holiday developments. I wrote two postcards and this was the first when I was still struggling to like the place. I had walked from our villa into ‘countryside’ and found the start of another new holiday development dug out of the volcanic rocks. As I stood quietly, the rustles of lizards surrounded me and butterflies rose from the rough soil.
Gran Canaria – first ‘country’ walk
A voice crushed to a trickle inside rocks,
Imprisoned by brute volcanic rubble
Born of a dreadful alliance between
God and man; the men at home who shout with
Certainty, who build, repair, make money
Leaving unconsidered waste and trouble.
Here their plastic piping, concrete grey blocks
And shards of broken glass mingle with dark
Unformed hillsides that wait for the sculpting
Force of wind and water. Trackways mark out
The patterns of greed to come; alongside
Their rough stubble, haunting blocks graffiti
Painted show the insensibilities
That grow with this institutionalised
Island – a prison of escapees.
I dare not speak – I am too full of fear,
Waiting to be crushed by the loud voices
Of those whose world this is. Invisible
Seems a better option, one that is shared
With the darting lizards hiding behind
The same unlovely rocks and rubbled waste.
We can but dream of the airborne beauty
Of the drifting butterflies who outface
This ugliness without a word or sound.