Friday, December 3, 2021

A Tree in Barcelona

Manicured cottonwood trees line the square
in Old Town, a space that looks as if Don Quixote
might amble through the space on his horse

at any moment, tilting at windmills as usual
as he sleeps and dreams his impossible dreams.
It is only a painting in a museum,

but I step into the frame and sit beneath a small elm,
bent as if it were a peasant woman or farmer
bending to pick up a potato.

It is a pleasant day, and I lean against the trunk,
legs crossed on the grass
as I survey the red tile rooves

and the brown arches of a building
that appears to be a hotel built in the Middle Ages.
I can hear the ceiling fans pushing air

through the open air and across the plaza into my face.
A plump woman walks down a cobbled street in the distance,
a baby riding her hips and bouncing

as gently as Don Quixote,
who has now checked into the hotel.
The elm tree whispers that I am welcome to stay.

I agree even though I know that in this perpetual afternoon
someone from the twenty-first century
will pull me from the picture.

Or perhaps it will be a noise,
the door to the museum closing
or a taxi horn disturbing the seventeenth century.

I close my eyes.
There is no hurry.
Like Adam, I will get kicked out of paradise

because a woman has spoken with a snake
about apples and my tenure on the canvas.
But I will return when the time is right.

I have found a mansion in my Father’s house
that, though humble, suits me fine.
A gold plaque above the frame reads

“A Tree in Barcelona.”
It knows nothing of good and evil,
nor is it a windmill.

~William Hammett

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