Old and small and almost empty
except for a dirty change of clothes,
a shaving kit and towel.
There was no key for the broken lock.
Durruti requested one-hundred pesetas
for underwear and soap,
though none of it was needed now.
His forces came to visit his body.
One man slowly folded his clothes
and pressed them back inside the case.
There was no money, photo, book,
no tie, collar, ticket or map.
The destination had been reached,
and outside the station door
there was only sand.
I was the one who held his case
not knowing the right way to go
or if any direction mattered.
‘By mid-day the revolutionary contagion
had spread … Even the timid joined in.’
I suppose by then I would’ve picked up
a bullet-less rifle and sang along
with everyone else, carefully locking
my apartment door, ensuring I carried
the King’s head on hard currency.
My subs unpaid union card
inside my wallet, linking arms
with the young and the happy,
pretending I am not afraid,
joining everyone inside the bars
beside those parched by smoke.
‘I am sitting next to them,
which means I must be like them.’
And the painted cars circling the city
bringing news, the true rumours.
We ran to the junction where the lorries parked,
handing out goods as if I found them,
as if I drove the stacked lorry,
as if I belonged, waiting for one
to tap my shoulder saying –
‘I know you. I know who you are.
Whose clothes are these? Whose shoes have you stolen?
Whose words are you saying? Why are you here?’
I looked out of my top floor window
to the square where the casts of saints
were burning. I opened some wine,
poured out a glass,
and listened to the muted calls
of the radio next door.
The morning air was bitter with smoke
and falling from the sky, an ash –
black flecks of burnt money.
A single car circled the plaza
like a lazy, red carousel.
I saw reunions in the cafes
with coffee, smoke and summer oranges,
and over the plain of roof terraces
the small glitter of sky-lights.
People waved the all-clear
with flags across the quarters.
Caramels and rose oil
for free on the littered stalls,
and red-chequer processions across
the broad, radial streets
like rivers now in flood.
I tire of keeping my night watch.
A whisper goes between us.
I could do with a drink.
The village is just a mile away.
There is a girl who sells wine
and even now I hear her song.
We all think about her song.
When we were found he read the rule
that we had broken. He asked for papers.
We handed them over. We looked up to him,
holding our glasses, the bread still warm
in our open mouths. He took our shirts,
he took our pants, he sent us home
like kids from school.
Now each day someone whispers –
the fire in the village is warm,
and there’s a girl, and wine, and song.
I spend my days drunk and listening,
listlessly watching the girl at the bar.
Meantime the light is coming up,
there’s footfall on shifting sand,
many voices advancing,
and my position is empty.