Friday, November 9, 2012

for Ali

"You need something to love," I say.
Her wide, wary eyes, that I love, her heart full
Of tears. A kitten, a child, a community. Something.
Not to love you, but to love. We sit together
In the old Bullring, now a shopping Mall,
Sipping cortados where blood dripped
Or ran in rivulets of cruel pleasure
In the days of the Dictator.

In the old city, a Korean tourist smells like sweet alcohol.
The medieval maze of old Barcelona confounds.
The map she proffers speaks a language
Of figures and forms, delicate, but indecipherable to me.
Her English is a tiny bird chirps,
Selected, necessary words, "Help?"
"Lost." We say yes because we can–
And, because she is so young, so lost and a little drunk,
Possessing simple, syllables of European language,
Her optimism and innocence the only treasure she offers.

So, so vulnerable, like my daughter who feels so alone.
But the tourist knows "Thank you",  says it over and over
As we pass the ancient cellars
Of the ugly Inquisition and the shadowed alleys
Populated by ghosts. No need for Thank you.
The gift is the giving. Finally delivered,
Her key fits an unfamiliar lock,
She hugs, I bow. Thanks enough given the chance
To care. This kitten of a child, lost, like my own
Who needs only to love to be found.

--Rebecca del Rio

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