One thing the residents of Barcelona will tell you is that the city is constantly “en obras.” Which means that wherever you are, turn a corner and there will be some kind of construction work going on. Things age, materials decay, and sometimes, property simply changes hands and new owners have a different idea.
They're tearing down the castle
that stood across the street.
Each morning when I leave the house,
such rubble at my feet!
A gargoyle's head, a family crest,...
the rotten stone must fall.
It seems that what we really need
is another shopping mall.
Someone sold the title
and a heritage was lost.
The change will bring a profit,
but it can't outweigh the cost.
About the previous poem…
Walking home from work the other day, I really did count 16 taxis lined up waiting at a taxi stand where the usual number is 2 or 3. As I walked past the taxis, I noticed that all the people in the driver’s seats were men. A lot of people are out of work, and it seems that a popular alternative to unemployment is to become a taxi driver. I love taxis! They are a great service to the city resident. But the number of taxis in circulation has bloated far beyond rider demand, and they spend a lot of time driving around empty, or idling at taxi stands waiting for a fare.
In the USA, in the 1930s many families from Oklahoma and other states migrated westward in search of new opportunities and new livelihoods after their farms had failed. I was amazed to read a “documentary” about their lives that said “the women took in laundry, sewing, cooked for boarders, cared for the sick, but the men couldn’t find work”. I ask my readers, what is wrong with this sentence? And why are so many men sitting around in idling taxis?
Current statistics reported in newspapers (NY Times, Financial Times,…) show that women are faring better than men in terms of economic recovery in the current crisis.
As I mentioned in the previous post, rain is infrequent enough in Barcelona so that you really notice the difference. There are some beautiful gardens I pass every morning just before I arrive at the office. They have olive trees, pampas grass, and very healthy hedges to separate them from the sidewalk. And on the first rainy morning in a long while, I noticed that the hedges were animated! They had all their leaves reaching upward and looked like they had grown taller overnight. They looked happy! and that gave me this poem.
Look at how the plants reach out
to drink the welcome rain!
I envy them their simple life
that passes without pain.
Their leaves, like hands,
lift in delight.
They do not ask for much.
I wish my life were more like theirs –
to be content with such
a thoughtless gift come from the sky –
to simply live, and easy die.
Two striking things happened in Barcelona last week: it rained, and then it got cold. We’re talking hats, scarves, gloves, and boots. So it’s kind of ironic that I wrote this poem last week, inspired by a house I passed on my walk home from work.
Bougainvillea on a whitewashed wall
Bougainvillea on a whitewashed wall,
hibiscus in November.
It doesn't really look like fall,
at least not like I remember.
Where I come from, it used to rain,
cold wind would rake the sky.
One day you'd take a look outside,
and trees had turned to fire.
Such beauty there, such beauty here,
I try to love it all.
Eternal summer has its charm,
but I really miss the fall.