The Curved Window

Our Spanish room was simple,
a bit dusty, with two narrow beds,
a wash basin, a small table
and a shared toilet in the passage.
Normality in Spain back then.
But it was our first Spanish room
and we were happy!
The owner was nice,
‘doux, comme le sucre’
as my friend told him.
But he spoke no French.

We shopped in the corner shop with
the curved window
which became our landmark
to find our way back home
through the labyrinth of small streets.
At night we explored them
enjoying the clubs and cafes and bars
and the company of lively people.
Then we found our window
and made our way home.

Home to a locked door that
no amount of banging or shouting
would cause to open.
A passer-by showed us the system.
He clapped his hands loudly
and a man appeared with a big bunch of keys,
enough to fit the locks of several streets.
Normality when Franco reigned.
He let us in with a smile.
He was ‘doux, comme le sucre’
my friend told him,
but he didn’t understand.

Forty years later we found the street.
Our landmark, the curved shop window
showed us the way.
It was all still there, though only in facade,
waiting for reconstruction or demolition.
The facade of a memory that
is still there and remains
‘doux, comme le sucre’
and we understand.

It’s all gone now.


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