Robin Kidson

In Granada                                                                 

 

Granada weeps; the emir’s engineers

Have found ways to catch and channel the tears,

In cisterns and streams, up fountains, down rills,

Cooling the air and feeding the ground,

The silver sound eternal and insisting.

 

Granada weeps like a wound that will not heal.

Paint me bloodstain on the cathedral wall,

And whispers of old men on dusty streets:

This poet’s a fascist, that one’s a red…

Then paint me portraits of the dead.

 

Las granadas are too ripe and have split;

The man who writes your name in Arabic,

Has a scent: cinnamon, roses, garlic,

Half-cured leather not long off the bull;

He might be the ghost of a king or a poet.

 

I sleep tonight in the gardens of Spain,

Whilst the leg-bones of dead kings walk the streets.

Intoxicated by the roses’ scent,

I will either sleep forever,

Or else never again.

Federico comes to me in a dream.

He wants me to mend a tear in the page.

I do my best with scissors and paste,

But someone says the poets are dead,

And the waters run red in Granada.

Commentary

This is the latest version of a poem I first began after a visit to Granada in Spain in November 2018 with my wife and an old friend. We spent a night in the Hotel Reina Cristina which is the house where the poet Federico Garcia Lorca was staying when he was taken away by fascists and murdered in 1936. I had a dream that night about Lorca which is described in the last verse. The remainder of the poem stitches together things I saw and experienced during our visit – for example, a street vendor who, for one euro, would write your name in Arabic on a piece of card. There is also a reference to Nights in the Garden of Spain, the orchestral piece by Granada-based composer, Manuel de Falla.