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The Alhambra

inspiration + travel = poetry

The secret is here
closer come closer we have
apples pomegranates
see eat this ripe orange and
remain in paradise up to the 6th
or yes 7th level
the ceiling is carved with the seven
levels in this room
Paradise behind
thick walls 
we protect and cultivate 
careful roses 
a man replaces
the thorns every summer evening 
the outside wall, the inside wall and
between, yes, there is nothing  
better protection yes?  No one cares
that nothing lives between this space
understand yes, what  is empty -
so attractive
so terrible. 

Inspiration: The abandoned moat

Everyone has a way to best visit the Alhambra. See it at night, it’s more dramatic. See it in the morning when it’s cool. See it on your own, see it with a guide, skip the line. Since I was visiting according to a pre-arranged tour. I had little choice. We visited in the morning. When it was cool. But of course, the interior gardens of the palace are built to compensate for the heat and the hot light.

I was taken by how the whole palace embodied entrapment, a luxury prison. Women who came to the Alhambra as concubines, as wives, never left. Much like the Forbidden City in China. You are taken care of you are nurtured and fed. But you never leave. I object to this because I am a western woman of a certain time. Back in the day, this beautiful garden, this life surrounded by women, would have been far preferable than the freedom to starve or be beaten by your husband thrust upon you by family. I know the imprisonment wasn’t all that bad.

The drained moat between the exterior wall and the interior wall is choked with weeds, dry in the hot sun. The abandoned moats in the north -Germany, Britain, Ireland, are green and often mowed. But of course, they have free water. Here you’d need to pay attention. And there is no attention paid. So there is this odd other space in an otherwise meticulously kept property. I’m interested in those second or third spaces.

And yes, that I can make a generalization of moats is pretty amusing, but not as amusing as my mother who has visited so many mines that she has favorites. (The Big Pit National Museum in Wales).


Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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