It was also my father’s city, legend
at the edge of the bay, walled
before history’s dismantling
as bombs fell from the sky.
I do not recognize
how it looks in vintage
photographs: the graceful
boulevard, the parks and plazas
from another century,
blueprint of someone’s colonial
dreams that flowered in delirious
heat. And it is hard to reconcile
these images— avenues with neat,
lettered signs: botica, sombrerería,
panadería; itinerant but well-
dressed vendors— with choked fumes
from standstill traffic, the stench
of a city rotting from the weight
of all it can no longer bear,
but from whose dwindling
stores the greedy want
to ferret every bit of shine
and wealth, snuff the strength
to spit in the face of the state
and its lies. Most of all, the poor:
vagrants who knife, sharp-shinned,
through narrow spaces between cars to knock
on sealed windows with fevered palms.
I used to walk from work late at night and see,
huddled under a bridge or by a canal in the glow
from a nearby high-rise, bodies seeking
repose: the old, the young, infirm—
sheeted in newspapers, mumbling
in sleep. How could we want any differently?
Don’t we know how it feels to lie, so public
and helpless, beneath the heel of a dream?
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.