by C K Stead
“…el amor, sino una ciudad loca.” Pablo Neruda
Tropical fruit and thunder in the mountains;
the flash of water on crazily sloping streets,
precipitation on precipitation; the yellow cabs
and battered buses racing; the tiles I walk on,
the music (samba? salsa?) my ears are hearing
over the fan’s buzz; the shout of papaya sellers;
the bank guard with his automatic rifle
and his friend with the silver revolver;
the sign outside the trauma hospital meaning
“We never close”; and in a quarter seeming
without hope, “La Esperanza – Centro Dental” …
Everywhere, derelict lives and smiling faces.
They are dining on balconies; in boulevards
their cars are killing one another; somewhere
they will be dancing in the streets – because love
is a lunatic city and a river runs through it
whose gold enticed them to this Nowhere-nonplace
where mule-tracks crossed in the mountains.
The gold is gone. Over a patch of park
where drunks and addicts die, the condors hover.
I climb the stairs to my room -– for exercise,
or is it penance? The women are beautiful,
a beauty that lasts only as the gold lasted
and then is gone, replaced by a kind of grace.
Medellin, Colombia, July ‘07
The above C.K.Stead poem appears in the New Zealand Listener this week. How fortunate we book-loving Kiwis are to have this wonderful magazine that for over 68 years and through various ownership upheavals has continued to bring us lengthy thoughtful book reviews,poetry, new fiction, criticism and comment and constantly reminds us of our identity and place in the world.
Good on ya Listener people! Bookman Beattie is a fan, keep up the great work.
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