This poem, like others, was inspired by Barcelona’s lovely vegetation. I was walking home from work at about 8 p.m. and found myself enveloped in a heady fragrance that reminded me of my grandmother.
I walk through curtains of jasmine.
It smells like movie stars...
the ones who wore those négligées,
and winked at men in bars.
A fragrance out of fashion,
in close quarters, it's too sweet.
But in a city on an evening
in the summer, it's a treat.
In Barcelona, at any moment, in any neighborhood, you can be surprised by a gem of modernist architecture. The Casa Muleyafid, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch in 1914, is one I pass every morning. The Consulate of Mexico is currently the lucky tenant of this whimsical structure. Not only do they have a great building, they have somebody who likes flowers. I know, because you can see a pot of tall, gracious orchids through one of windows.
Orchids in the Consulate
The orchids in the Consulate have grown on foreign soil. Carefree, you’ll never see them spin, and neither do they toil.
I wonder if a diplomat from some greener distant place was homesick when she planted them? Or perhaps it was a case of protocol, as flowers are known to make amends in conflicts small and great.
Flowers would be my policy if I were head of state.
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.