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Poems

Mentor

24 October 2015

9:00 AM

24 October 2015

9:00 AM

for Marisa Foz del Barrio

You divorced on the first day
it was legal, were imprisoned
three times as a Communist
under Franco, still dyed your hair
blonde and – at the age I am now –
still lived with your parents’
bourgeois furniture (those impossible beds),
the drapes and porcelain from another era,
one you’d rebelled against
but kept close by, as if to understand
yourself better. I think of you
sitting under your father’s army awards,
a carpet-style brocade over the table
and over your knees, a lamp
at your feet, like an old woman,
your rollie constantly giving up
in the green ash tray. And me,
curled on the stiff sofa, trying
to follow every word –
you never spoke in English,
never explained. You took me in,
gave me a key, smiled when I climbed
to your flat roof in a bikini
in January, shared bread and manchego
when my grant was late.
I last saw you a decade back,
you looked much the same,
smoked much the same.
I wish we still talked on the phone,
because one day I’ll press the buzzer
to your flat and you won’t be in.


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