Año Santo

Año Santo  


It’s November. Holy Year almost over.

They’ll close the Puerta Santa

for six years.


Walking down a sunset street

all the smells of evening.

An old man with his wife

his fat, cropped, short-hair neck.

Faint moped fumes.

Familiar smell again.


Old women, bouffant hairstyles,

puffed up in black fur coats, talking, talking.

A colonial bell tower with sky through it;

palm trees in the north.

Black birds in the trees.

Groups of joggers through the park.

Deep burning streaks of sun

between dark hills.


The sound of water from fountains;

branches losing their leaves.

Thursday night.

Soon the students will be going out.

In the park, a boy and a girl walk their Alsatian.

Old men in berets, walking.

And me.


Near the cathedral, an open window to the night.

A scallop shell in sandstone above the door.

Blue fire from a workshop;

men in light-blue overalls. Half-past seven.


A woman whispers something as I pass.

Half-closed eyes, red eyelids, greasy long hair.

I go on. Police car pauses near the park.

Ratty fur coat, Cheap heels.

She lurches on.


A car leaves the Reis Católicos’ garage.

Door-men, glass doors.

Taxi—green light on top—passes.


A white-haired priest leaves by a side door

after Mass, walking into the night.

In a clothes shop

a woman lights a cigarette.

The Quintana is quiet.


November. The door still open.

The year about to close.


Seven years ‘til I come back.