Plaintive cry of the blind
lottery ticket seller
under the arches of Correos
—tickets pinned to his chest—
“¡ONCE para hoy!”
"ONCE para hoy!" essentially means "lottery tickets for today!" As I mentioned in a recent post, “ONCE” is the “National Organization of Spanish Blind People”, which uses its lottery system to raise funds to employ and give benefits to the blind. Their plaintive call, and the tickets pinned to their chests, twinned with their blindness, gave them a lugubrious, almost medieval quality that I touch on in this poem, "Lamed".
My friend Tony Shiplee wrote a creepy horror story about the blind lottery ticket seller who used to stand under those arches. In the story, the main character - Samuel, let's call him - is passing, when the blind man hisses at him: "Samuel!"
The arches, or "soportales", are very good protection from the Galician rain, and I suspect that is why they were incorporated into the design of the Rúa do Vilar and Rúa Nova, which are exceptionally beautiful, and allow you to walk umbrella free most of the length of the street. On certain nights, you could walk these streets, with the street lights reflecting rainbow-like in the puddles, and feel that they would never end.
Other blog posts from the book that you might enjoy:
This poem is from my second book, Santiago Sketches, which is entirely set in the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. You can read more poems here, in Spanish and in English. You can buy the book on Amazon here, or if you'd rather buy local, order from your bookshop. More information is available on my website.
This post gives the background on the editing of Santiago Sketches, which was distilled from perhaps 100 little pocket notebooks, which were shaped from being carried around in my trouser pocket.