Once, we were coming back
From a fête votive in Goudargues
When, sticky with pink barbe à papa,
And queasy because
The hairpinning road through St Marcel de Careiret
Resembled the crazy-maze passage of our caroming bumper car,
We were met by a stream of sangliers —
Wild boars —
Dashing across the D9 near the Forêt de Cavillargues.
They pelted in a single ribbon, as I recall,
So how could we even tell what they were,
How distinguish that ruche of shadow and wind
From any other ghost of the district?
That year I came across
A theory about the suffix –argues
That trails behind village names all around here.
(Vallérargues, St André d’Olérargues, Goussargues, Foussargues.)
It may refer to an area of land
Given to Roman soldiers after service in North Africa
By the praetor in Nîmes.
Cavillargues. The acres of Cavillus, perhaps.
The hairy pigs had emigrated, perhaps from the Caucasus,
And no doubt had settled the Val de Tave long before Cavillus
Arrived to begin gentrification.
He wandered from the marble steps of the Maison Carrée,
Perhaps having paid obeisance to Roman gods and governors,
Perhaps uncertain from an encounter with the local plonk,
And les sangliers came out to give him a thrill,
And to tell him
that this is not yet the Forêt de Cavillargues
you can’t run through it as if you were a ground-level mistral
with your feet like bound clumps of asparagus
and your eyes on the Perseid meteor showers
all roads lead to Rome except ours