We drank sangria before noon and ate
Thick hunks of omelette, olives green as jade,
Spitting the bitter pips onto the plate;
Sipped café bonbon languidly, then made
Retreat, before the fire in the grate
Blazed from the live coals of Córdoba’s shade,
Into a heat like purgatory or worse.
We saw the other thirsting souls disperse
And, walking, passed, in courtyards cool as thought,
Blue as the winter mantle of the moon,
Firm flesh of fruit in corsets iron-wrought,
Until we reached the shuttered pensión.
Our senses in a silken web were caught;
And bodies, in the tea-stained afternoon,
Dissolved like sugar in an amber glass,
A subtle darkness laced with bitterness.
A church grew in the paradise of palms.
Outside, the heat, drunk with a jealous rage,
Pounded on doors, possessive of your charms:
Black arabesques of hair upon the page
Of crisp white bed sheets and your jasmine arms
Forming the soft bars of a scented cage.
Out on the steps of the Mezquita sat
A Roma beggar in a broad-brimmed hat
Shielding a face closed like an ancient tome
Bound in dark leather; while his flesh was hung
Up in the window of that butcher time.
Only in longing were his eyes still young;
His fingers slumped around a sprig of thyme
He sold to passing tourists. On his tongue,
A small dry song he offered for the alms
That memory bestowed—her jasmine arms.
Cicadas roared. The sharpened rays of Sol
Invictus pierced stone shoulders of the day,
As banderillas do a skewered bull.
Dusk stained the dusty sheets of our love-play.
The ancient art of blood and sun is cruel.
Fine fabric of the beautiful display
Catches the heart that bellows deep and fights
The sun-god Mithras in his suit of lights