Lorca, like you, in my early thirties I travelled
to another teeming and seemingly ordered continent.
Singers in silk garments, coins and the instruments of death
were always close at hand; jailed miscreants,
banners pardoning them,
a deep impenetrable language,
the toes of the tall Buddha, sparrows
sheltered behind his long earlobes. Like you,
I could taste the art and aching everywhere,
I poured the night into black brushstrokes.
The river had not yet been poisoned.
In our hundreds we cycled lampless through the nights.
Lorca, it was not a Wall Street crash but the aftermath
of a decade’s rage that splintered
the library’s glass cases of butterfly wings and separated
dancers from their jazz. But the iron rice bowl
still sated us and cicada medicine cured us.
The blur of night traffic had not yet killed
my friend on the capital city’s ring road.
On every tongue, denunciation and praise. Lorca,
remember how astonishment tasted?