Ron Smith 


Eat days? Oh, heat wave she just said  

in my own language. I’d say a dryish wavelet

in sultry Savannah or even in Richmond,

but miserable for walking, for sure. The local beer’s

cold, if uninspired. Seems nobody here knows

how to make a Manhattan or a Negroni,

not that you’d want one till the sun goes down.

All over town white storks clack on chimneys,

bristling nests bewitching bell towers.

Disguised Frenchmen from Paris, she says

then laughs at her own wit. I jot a note to look

this up. The new cathedral’s astronaut floats

in the sandstone void near today’s morning-

shift beggar, a bulky butterfly out of his

blackened palm . . . Above our glistening brows,

all around our revolving heads, Salamanca

glows gold beneath flawless cobalt. Lord,

grant each charra under heaven only the babies

she wants, and let us simmer in Salamanca

a few days more. Let drenched me slog

the steep calles rather than lean and loaf

in screenporched Georgia or hammocky Virginia.

I have descended to the Puente Romano,

guarded by its faceless boar, and climbed back

in summer slow motion to Plaza de Anaya where I

caught what was left of my breath. When Hannibal

mounted that hill in 220 BC, I choose to believe

he wheezed, at least a little. Iberians, Celts, Romans,

Visigoths, Moors, Frenchmen, Fascists—think

of all the blood beneath these stones.

Columbus slept here, scheming, his dreams

full of bad maps . . . . Delores booked a room

with a balcony on Plaza Mayor, big room blissful

with A/C and a firm, obliging bed—and, after dark,

visions of elegance and order that sink deeply

into savage senselessness. Past the cafes, bars,

restaurants thrumming with their medleys of tapas,

clutches of smoking students in their unlined,

intelligent faces, past bright museum banners, under

cigüeña blanca soaring, gliding, having given up

the arduous voyage to Africa, searching now for

urban scraps, this old heart flails erratically away

on its vintage drum set, its measure a scatter of

iambs, anapests, dactyls, trochees, quail exploding

from cover, Bobbie Hendricks getting off two shots

whatwhat before I can raise my barrel. I am

fifteen years old and have never heard of Salamanca.