2011, a red traffic light at Westport Road,
while driving to the safety of a basement
during a Louisville twister.
My wife and I averted death, screaming
wildly, asking for a red light to turn green.
1939, the Loyalists of the Second Spanish Republic
burned his seminary to ash.
A poet, a deacon, sang at High Mass
when the school was shattered—scattering
the seminary boys and men who ran
to their homes, and all the girls in sunburnt Cadíz
flocked to greet them in the stone streets, in the
churches unlocked, and the horses watching
He spoke Spanish, French, and Latin—
he knew words as music, knew the touch
of voice on the heart. In the little village church
he played the organ, knowing all her pipes and stops,
this looming, found beast of rain gutter pipes,
and old doors and jambs—
often he turned sharply to see Incarnate God
in the verses, but then
for a time the only Word he could dream
was Nico, from the Zarsuela—
her lovely, white frocked frame adorned—a lucent
raven would sing Ave Maria while he played.
His notes carried her, a bird song, aloft in the nave,
above the aisles of whispering communicants.
Dreaming he thought not of any particular
or universal thing, rather a persistent dawning—
the husband, the father I could be.
See them folded across each other, roaming in Casas Viejas,
deacon and songstress, shuffling past the apothecary
and cafes, on the cold, knowing stones that
and could bear one feelingly, the eyewitnesses to time.
Her heels: staccato echoes in the short streets
between the stuccoed buildings, and there were
gardens on the balconies from where the good boys
cast their sad gazes on the unreachable beauties
See gold bands purchased to adorn this royalty.
Hear a song at Mass shared as one would pen
a tanka or a letter.
It is dancing, a swell and rise atop the pews felicitous,
talking of sons and daughters to come, better days, and
1944, this sleeping town of little old houses,
the world at war, a limping peace at the door,
in Nuestra Señora del Socorro
caring not a whit for what was lost,
or what could be,
this couple they married—
and 29 years later, dear Papí, I was born—you see?