Embedded City

You never really left me, even when I left
you, Lisboa—you ancient port, you birthplace
of sailors, merchants, explorers, poets, you
city of hidden corridors, twisting, breathing
unseen musicians across cobblestoned tunnels,
 aching arches, secret jardines.  You
sleepy-eyed mornings, sunrises greeting
empty streets—not even vendors offering
cherries, fish, juice of oranges ‘til late
in western suns.  You vibrant, raucous,
no less magical nights bleeding
revelers, revelry, ginjinha, and your
different breed of vendors, pushing
something to smoke, something to snort,
something to hold close when the sun
has drowned in the salt-heavy waters
of the Tagus.  

You never really left me, even when I left
the unheimlich comforts of your unfamiliarity,
your people, your culture, your alchemy
of old world Europe, of Spain, of half a dozen
foreign nations, somehow wholly your own,
somehow drifting from the water’s edge, whispering
energy into fiery copper-bells gone-green
with centuries of patina and intangible saudade,
tolling, tolling                         
                                      Other. Other. Other.

never really left me, even when I left
and returned, and left again, and so often
nightly, some untouchable, unfathomable
addition to my system, my spirit, my blood
coursing equally mysterious paths and passageways,
inside, all around, remnant reverberations
of this meager bit of ancestry I’ve discovered
sleeps in my past, in these
sinews of the soul,
so that here, even here,
I hear
                                  Other. Other. Other.

You never really left me, even though I left
your cabs, your trains, your layered planes
of existence, every western circumstance, now,
ever singing you through my pores,
your ancient songs, your Fado chords, like
sweat and captivity, like deliverance
and bittersweet remembrance.

Even here, even now,
I am yours, Lisboa,
yours, sweet Lisboa,


You, dear city,
You, dear lover,
were you ever