Fountain of the Fallen Angel in Retiro Park

Two Poems by Sharon Dolin

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At the Fountain of the Fallen Angel in Retiro Park

Madrid

But aren’t we all fallen angels, I thought
             as I limped over with one ankle recalling
an old sprain—drawn to darkness

and gravity: Bosch’s bulimic creature enthroned
             and swallowing the damned whole
only to excrete
them. 

What was there ever to do in Paradise
             except leave—the way my son has left me
for the mired world.
                                 The sun blandishes

the angel’s wing and my hand
             as I sketch the serpent entwining
his right wrist
and thigh.
                 Down below

iguanas with crenellated heads
             spew the water—between fangs—
he may never drink.

Hasn’t it always been a story of thirsts unquenched
             and the struggle not to struggle: torso writhing—
wrist writing—between ecstasy and angst?

I don’t ask for peace anymore,
             just another fallen one
to strain against.

 

 

Ode to Chufa

When the orxata ladies shook a few
            wrinkled pebbles into my hand,
hard to believe these tiny tubers

these petrified raisins
            dry as a wadi bed
could, when ground up and

mixed with sugar, make a milk
            as malty as they do.
Orxata. All I hear is the ladle

stirring up the cream-cool
            drink in a steel vat before
the pour into a glass

of summer. May you always
            remain my Barcelona
my entrance into Mediterranean

light, my delight in the local.
            May you never appear
in New York except for these

few crumbs I keep in a blue ceramic
            shoe to remind me why
memory is composed of what

we hold near    from a distance.

 

 

 

Sharon DolinSharon Dolin is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Manual for Living. Her translation from Catalan of Gemma Gorga’s Book of Minutes appeared in the Field Translation Series (Oberlin College Press, 2019). Her memoir Hitchcock Blonde is forthcoming from Terra Nova Press in June 2020. She is associate editor of Barrow Street Press and director of Writing About Art in Barcelona.
 
Read additional work by Sharon Dolin appearing in Terrain.org: “Catalan Calendar,” a finalist for our 10th Annual Contest in Nonfiction, and “French Flares,” nonfiction.

Header photo by by SvetlanaSF, courtesy Shutterstock.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.