March 18, 2008

Mi entierro con María Callas

It was International Poetry Day last Friday and there was a poetry recital at the Civic Centre. I went the year before: I performed Spike Milligan's There are holes in the sky - in English, following with a Spanish translation* that was not my own work. But I have been here two whole years now, two whole years this coming Friday, and I thought that this year I should try and exercise the little Spanish I have learned and write a verse myself.

I have learned little enough in those two years. It has been hard, hard, not only hard because I started from the very beginning, with no Spanish at all save the few words like matador that everybody knows. Not only hard because I started at the age of forty and forty is thirty years too late to start learning a language properly. Not only hard because I have no time, no formal lessons and no time to have those lessons, because I spend most of my day trying to run a shop and much of the rest of it trying to recover from the effort. Not only hard because of flooded flats and corrupt residents' associations, because of insurance companies that pass the buck to one another and take sixteen months to pay, because of water that does not work and post that does not arrive, and because of all the stress and anger that these things produce and the lack of motivation, the lack of a desire to be here and to stay here, that results. Not only hard because of the enormous, unanticipated stress of being without language, of being almost unable to make oneself understood and almost entirely unable to understand. I need to learn and I am not able to learn nearly quickly enough. And because of that, I am tired, and stressed, and angry, and because of that, I cannot learn.

But I have learned enough to write a short verse, to find some sounds in Spanish that chime together. It has taken two years to get there, and two years is two years closer to death. So the subject that came to mind was my funeral, and the music I'd like to have played when it happens. And so I wrote, and then I spoke, and then I left the stage.
A mi entierro
El aria
"Casta Diva"
Cantada por María.

Me gustaría mucho
Como quiero que lloren
La gente

Y tengo
De qué sin María
No haya lágrimas
Para mí.
I didn't say it was TS Eliot. I didn't say it was Joseph Conrad.

[*Hay agueros en el cielo
Donde entra la lluvia
Pero los agueros son muy pequeños
Por eso, la lluvia es fina.


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