Early morning after visiting two galleries
a few scattered doves in the square parade at random –
bird-walk, oblivious of your gardenia oil in the air,
murmurs of clove, and lemon grass.
The pistol on the table at the café was only a picture
left behind. Look around:
no gunpowder smell, no footprints smeared with blood.
Not even hunters come for breakfast
here, only a handful of doves. Ask anyone in the plaza.
I didn’t see a shooting,
screams or suspicious types, only two young couples
rehearsing tap and flamenco dances – that wooden stage.
Who could have thought Francisco Toledo, painter
from Oaxaca, would peruse photographs in black and white
of Hindu women – victims of patriarchal abuse
placed in front of his own paintings – he stares
at me, self-portrait behind a wire fence, asking, one-eyed:
qué harás con tanto dolor –
what will you do with so much pain?
In a dream I am the shepherd
of your camels and your goats.
At the fountain I am the water-carrier
with a two-handled jar
awaiting your return from the sky
to wash your feet
that playfully skipped
from Fersaus to Aldebaran.
I will brush the stardust from your hair
before the musicians and poets arrive –
serve cold wine, as I feed you
sliced oranges and figs
grown in the gardens of Al Andalus.
This autumn morning
celebrates how the full moon carries
your new song, let’s drink
before the threat of another dark night.
Carlos Hernández Peña grew up in México, but has lived in various U.S. cities over the second half of his life. In 2005 he launched “Voices” at the Princeton public library, a biannual program of poetry from around the world presented in a bilingual format. His first collection of poetry, Moonmilk and Other Poems, was published by Ragged Sky Press in 2006. Most recently, Hernández Peña received a writing scholarship for the Prague Summer Program 2008 from Western Michigan University. He has served as a co-editor of the US1 Worksheets magazine and is working on a collection of short stories in Spanish.