Young male clerk wearing John Lennon glasses
at Livaria Bertrand, world's oldest bookstore,
stamps my books: Virginie Despentes and Pessoa.
"How did you get here so fast," I ask him
when he's already at the door,
without glasses, as I leave.
"I'm like that," he answers,
his smile like the sun on the Tagus.
Guitarist and trumpet player on the sidewalk.
playing Amy Winehouse songs.
Joyful music by young men in suits;
an old schizo joins their dance.
Smiles of women with dark hair,
the embrace of the female doctor
in her lab coat,
who takes my pulse
and assures me
my heartbeat is OK.
Small children in their school uniforms
at Sanhora do Rosario.
Community center for kids who grow up
wild on Porto's streets.
The director with his stutter
speaks of holiday barbecues,
afternoons playing football
with the young men.
At the nursing home, an old woman
wails in the corner as the elderly priest
awakens in a dusty glow
floating through the windows.
Doors flung open reveal
Christ on his cross, his downcast eyes.
How beautiful their Portuguese voices
searching for English words.
The man with legs bent backwards
begging on the Avenida de Liberdade,
men selling chestnuts on the street,
smoke rising in the light
reflected from the slippery sidewalks
made of yellow tile.
The happiness of old and middle aged men
gathered for lunch, hugs and kisses
cheek to cheek. The rain, changing to sun,
changing to rain, changing to sun,
the rivers, rushing to the Atlantic.
The suave guide John,
handsome as a rock star,
leads us to the castle,
tells how Ulysses founded Lisboa,
Tall pine trees, shaped like arrows,
cork held between our fingers.
Stylish young woman
guides us through
the immigration center.
Solemn faces of refugees
as they wait
in the enormous room.
Walking in the darkness
from the hotel to the airport,
5 a.m. departure.
Old oak trees, broken sidewalk.
As we sit on the bus,
to take us to the plane,
a song fills the space:
"I see fire burning the trees."