Thoughts on a Spanish Terrace

by Graham Tayar (Closely related to Toledanos)

This is the last of Europe, so close to Africa that the Pillars of Hercules,

Gibraltar, Ceuta and the Riff make up the distant backcloth.

We sit on the slope of a great backed bowl, green in parts but rimmed around

by bare rocky hills. There are few people, little clusters in newly white painted villages. Under such modern facades, their Moorish past is not quite hidden;

its roots and centre hold, hard and dangerous.


It is startingly peaceful, easy to forget, in an earlier age, my forefathers expelled

in 1492 (odd how an American door opened when Spanish gates closed).

For these are the lands of my ancient Jewish past;

behind me Toledo, across the water Tangier and Meknes.

And then beyond them Sfax and Tripoli, Malta, Livorno and all parts eastward

with my Gibraltarian kinsmen almost in touching distance.


Across this network of ancestral places, my many great grandparents, rabbis and merchants, - some prosperous, exhibiting public recognition in vice-consular ease;

but mostly, I suspect, crammed into urban Arab ghettos-

criss-crossed the sea to trade and incidentally, to find wives and husbands,

seek advancement and, suitcases packed anticipating pogroms or plague,

to escape if still alive.


History and landscape then both harsh and anxious; but here-and-now, in these upmarket hills each house has comfort and space, privacy and views to kill for.