LA PALMA


For Caroline Reeves

The airport signs are in the four languages
of Spain – Basque, Castilian, Catalan,
Galician – three of which Franco outlawed.
(Our Eroski bag will tell us how to
recycle it in all four). El Caudillo,
slightly chinless, rendered the country
tongue-tied for a generation and more.

We arrive at the same time as the swifts –
which buzz our apartment’s balcony
at sunset and loop across the clay-tiled
roof tops and past the Moorish chimneys
– and the last of the vendavales
blowing round the Gothic cathedral
and the archway to the walled Arab harbour.

Next day, we marvel at the fish stalls
in the market, a Mediterranean
cornucopia – now including salmon!
We stroll along the corniche
by the extensive marina, note
the fishing port reduced to two quays
and the multiple moorings of Russian
oligarchs’ and Arabian despots’
gargantuan yachts and power boats.
We stop in a glass-walled bar for a latte.
Billie Holiday sings, ‘Rocks in my heart.’

Next morning, we stroll in the old town.
We pass a graffito, ‘Passada
a l’rumor! Partit de la Llibertat! ‘
‘Pass on the rumour! Freedom exists!’
As we enter Plaça de Sant Francesc,
a man is being arrested. Squad cars
flash their blue lights. Nuns watch from the windows
of the convent school by the basilica.
We can hear the excited voices of girls.

That evening, we eat at the Portic
in the Plaça – grilled turbot, aioli
and a small carafe of the house red.
As we return to the apartment
through the narrow, tenemented streets,
swifts chafe the warm air. And it is nothing,
nothing and everything…

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Ashen - May 21st, 2015 at 12:38

    A swift composition. Brings back memories of being there with my mum, a long time ago.

  2. #2 by John Chapman - May 21st, 2015 at 16:25

    What a charming piece with no downside.

  3. #3 by David Selzer - May 22nd, 2015 at 19:19

    No ‘downside’, John? I must be slipping! A fishing port reduced to two quays, salmon in a fish market in the Med, despots and oligarchs, ‘Rocks in my Heart’, graffito about freedom, arrest in the street…

  4. #4 by John Chapman - May 22nd, 2015 at 21:33

    Not slipping, David, perhaps showing your sentimental side. ‘Exterminate The Brutes’ balances very well with your norm. Whether you meant it or not, this piece overcomes the observations you point out with your obvious enjoyment of the ambience of the place enjoyed with your loving partner. I have had similar experiences and this piece resonated well with them. A loving contentment to be thoroughly enjoyed.

  5. #5 by David Selzer - May 24th, 2015 at 09:54

    ‘El Caudillo,
    slightly chinless, rendered the country
    tongue-tied for a generation and more…’

  6. #6 by Bonnie Flach - May 30th, 2015 at 17:44

    Always nice to visit a different culture. Nice poem.

  7. #7 by John Huddart - June 22nd, 2015 at 16:02

    An air of studied neutrality, observing all the ironies of contemporary life – contemporaneousness clearly being a continuum, and always applicable. Imagine Franco’s troops arriving in the restaurant, or Rome’s.

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