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.
I pass him every morning, and one day finally stopped to LOOK at him. I found his perfection moving, and at the same time was disturbed by these thoughts:
Wings raised, the noble predator
will never know release
(unless some cataclism come,
to set free every beast.)
Untried, the females of his kind,
no nest was ever his.
He guards a garden and a house,
for him, that’s all there is.
I wonder if he chafes within.
Can iron have a heart?
It’s my suspicion that he does.
How cruel of Vulcan’s art
to freeze him there on someone’s fence
before he could depart!
Back after a long summer break. Walking to work again. Since I get lost in my thoughts as I walk, I’m known for tripping (not that kind!) and occasionally taking a glorious fall, garnering lots of attention and immediate sympathy from any old people near me. So intermittently I have to remind myself to “walk consciously”, “be in the moment”, pay attention to where I am and the fact that I’m in motion and not to disconnect from my feet! Once again, this poem is an ode to my city, Barcelona.
Walk consciously, and keep your gaze
fixed on the path ahead.
Discreetly dodge the dog shit
and any pigeons lying dead
upon the sidewalk that you cherish.
Keep on walking every day.
A city has its faults and flaws,
and some have history.
This one is built on Roman stones,
has two mountains and a sea.
The sidewalk bears an artist’s stamp.
Another artist draws
with wind and leaves and cast off flowers,
an ephemeral collage.
Such beauty more than compensates
for anything I dodge.
One morning on the way to the office I saw a banner hanging from a lamp post that said: Unknown Disorder. It made me think of the way I am filled with poetry as I walk… and suddenly I was back in a highschool English class learning the names of figures of speech.
I have an unknown disorder,
a type of poetry.
Susceptible to metaphor,
A simile can be an axe,
but with a sharper blade.
Who takes the part to mean the whole
by words may be betrayed.
A hand in marriage does not mean
a heart and soul for life.
Nor “silver sails all out of the west”
prove ships are just in sight.
The sweetest words need grains of salt;
Don’t take them literally.
Be on your guard for metaphor
and shun synecdoche!