10/17/06
Malaga

At once the hills pulled down to the sea
No gloss apparent
The ocean cool and quiet
Around the city we skirted to the East,
Away from the center
Towards a starting point
And a destination
Steep steps and vaulted low ceilings
Living in the attic again
The date palm stands guard over our room

We descended to the ground level and then to the sea
Gray stone and gentle surf
The business of ships on the horizon
Walking along the strand
Thin cats with fast reflexes ran along the sea wall
The fishing boats pulled aground for the day
Cleaned and covered like sleeping soldiers
The sun falling but the evening not yet begun
By the cooks and the fire makers
Their grills cold and filled with ash

Old couple moving at their rate
Young couples either faster or not at all
The lights along the Pedragal ease on
As night takes the view away
Conversations over cigarettes and beer
They have none of the hurry and exhaustion
We brought with us
The acclimated rise, work, rest, work, rest, eat, play, sleep…
Seems so foreign at first and yet so civilized.

Here is another of those mutt places I enjoy
With so many layers of time
That the museums are one on top of the other
Roman, Phoenician, Arab, Spaniard
The city fought for, reclaimed, leveled, rebuilt, renamed
History paged with a new language in every chapter

For me history begins here too
To find the small home
Where I cried still standing
To pass the hospital where I drew
My first challenged breaths
Changed but still standing
To view from above what this place has become
In a lifetime, mine

In my mind I can erase the skyscrapers
Narrow the streets
But that’s as far as I can get
Without badgering a parent and getting
Forty-year-old memories
Showing them pictures they smile
It’s the same place but it doesn’t resemble their youth

The sleepy fishing village with Internet cafes and gift shops
Now it seems like a distant memory to me as well
Home, a different life and language romanticize the charm
And forget the bad drains and weak AC

We now crop our own photos
And fix the colors
Rewriting history and adjusting the contrast
What can this place that I have spent so little time in
Hold in my head, the legend of my own birth
The hurricane and the water tank
The praying nurses in the winter storm
Is the distance from it
In time or miles that make it magic
Or is it just the location at the beginning of the story
That the foundation is built on

Who can disagree if they never have been there?
Who can turn and tell you that you come from
Just another little town, a backwater, a non-contender

Nobody, that’s who and you build the myth
Of your own life on a stony beach, on a quiet street,
In an Oceanside hospital, in the air of the Mediterranean,
Beneath the Spanish sun, below the Moorish battlements,
Above the Roman ruins, below your aging feet,
Before your tearing eyes, around your swelling heart
Before you die.