Monday, December 13, 2010

Bill Tremblay: "A Square In Valencia"; illustration, "The Child and Mother", 1936, by David Siqueiros

A lorry lumbers through rubble-filled streets
and from under the tarp comes voices of men singing:
            There’s a valley in Spain called Jarama
            It’s a place that we all know so well,
            for ‘tis there that we wasted our manhood
            and most of our old age as well.

Truck brakes scream to a stop at a cobblestone plaza,
shops, second-story flats, bombed out library
with chunks of broken concrete, timbers like twisted straw.
Book pages wiffle in the breeze.
                                                Ruins silent as new ghosts
wandering Hell. Modesto and David jump down, others meet
wives, mothers, with smile-kissing chatter.

Through the crowd a five-year-old girl carries
her baby sister piggy-back, winding sheet sling
             faces dirty, eyes
darting, expecting who knows what bullets, lightning
from a sky of flying black crucifixes. The older girl holds out
her hand passing among people who slowly vanish             
like battlefield smoke.
                        David sits on a church’s exhausted steps
sketching on a map’s back the child-mother in colored pencils.
Modesto smokes a cigarette watching the picture appear
stroke by stroke out of nothing on white paper, the baby
bundled as her older sister was taught by her mother
before bombs blew her into red mist …

two girls, bulging needful cells, arms, pipes with knuckles,
modeled in a reddish light, hair streaked with war dirt,
the baby’s nose, cheeks,
                                    brown eyes snapped
rightward to a noise her sister-mother also fears,
a rent in her shirt the shape of a red chili
as she steps barefoot
            hoping for some fresh garbage,
child-mother and baby       and the piles of the dead
and what’s left, songs of suspicion traveling
down infinitely shredded nerves, their cheeks swollen
as their bellies swell, bricks rust red and behind them
            the ghost of a horse.

Note: The piece above is from Bill Tremblay’s book in process, “FIRE WITH FIRE: The Passion of David Siqueiros,” and the “event” in the poem takes place during the Spanish Civil War.  Bill is looking for other magazines to publish some of the approximately 25 poems that make up the book.